Activist Moves Bombay HC Challenging Order Discharging Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal In Corruption Case
Activist Anjali Damania has approached the Bombay High Court today challenging a Special Court's order discharging Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and his family members in a case of alleged corruption in the construction of a new Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.
The activist has sought for quashing of the Special Court's order discharging Bhujbal and others in the case and to direct the court to conclude trial in the case expeditiously.
The Special Court hearing cases related to the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had in September 2021 discharged senior NCP leader Bhujbal and seven others, including his son Pankaj and nephew Sameer, after observing that there was no substantial material to suggest that the accused persons got illegal gratification from the developer appointed to construct the building.
Damania today filed a revision application in the HC, challenging the lower court's order while claiming that the prosecuting agency (ACB) has not challenged the order of discharge till date.
The case is of grave public interest and is regarding huge corruption. The Respondent No. 1 (Chhagan Bhujbal) is currently serving as a minister in the present government of Maharashtra and belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is a part of the coalition government, Damania has said in her application.
The activist further said that she was one of the petitioners who had in 2014 filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court highlighting the present case. In 2015, the High Court had directed the state ACB to carry out a probe against Bhujbal and others, the application said.
Damania in her application alleged that Bhujbal and the other accused hatched a criminal conspiracy to cause wrongful loss to the public exchequer.
The application further claimed that a private builder was appointed for government projects, including the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan without offering any bids and the Bhujbals received kickbacks for the same.
Damania also said that the Special Court ignored the evidence submitted by the ACB which showed that Bhujbal had misused his official position and taken an active part in favouring a private builder.
Her application will come up for hearing in due course of time.
The case relates to a 2005-2006 deal that the NCP leader allegedly gave to the firm, when he was the PWD minister. According to the ACB, the contractors had "earned 80 per cent profit" in the construction of Maharashtra Sadan (the state guest house) in Delhi, while as per the government circular, such contractors were entitled to "only 20 per cent gain".
The ACB had claimed the original cost estimate for the Maharashtra Sadan was Rs. 13.5 crore, but it was later increased to Rs. 50 crore.
The state agency had alleged that the Bhujbals got Rs. 13.5 crore in kickbacks from the firm, which earned a profit of about Rs. 190 crore from the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan and other PWD works.
The Petitioner Anjali Damania was a former AAP leader who resigned from her post and had made an allegation in 2019 that the Maharashtra state leadership of AAP had joined hands with Chhagan Bhujbal.
With PTI inputs