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PMLA case: Bhujbal seeks bail saying his arrest is illegal

Former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, in judicial custody on charges of money laundering since March, sought bail from the Bombay High Court on medical grounds saying his arrest by Enforcement Directorate was not as per the procedures established by law.

A division bench of justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi is hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Bhujbal seeking bail saying his “arrest” was illegal.

A habeas corpus petition is a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into a court, especially to secure the persons release unless lawful grounds are shown for his or her detention.

Bhujbal’s lawyer Vikram Chaudhary argued that his client should be enlarged on bail since he was not well and undergoing treatment in a hospital.

The lawyer said the lower court has rejected Bhujbal’s bail on medical grounds twice. He, however, has not sought regular bail from the trial court.

Bhujbal’s lawyer argued that ED had not provided the grounds of arrest to Bhujbal in keeping with the provisions of section 19 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Hence, his arrest was illegal and he should be granted bail, the lawyer argued.

Bhujbal was arrested on March 14 by the ED on charges of money laundering. After his arrest, he had approached the high court challenging the constitutional validity of sections 19 and 45 of the PMLA.

Section 19 of PMLA empowers the ED to arrest an accused based on evidence gathered by the agency against the individual, while section 45 deals with bail of the accused.

However, Bhujbal withdrew his petition and filed a fresh plea in the form of Habeas Corpus petition challenging his arrest and seeking bail.

The hearing was adjourned. However, no date has been fixed for further arguments.

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