ACB files charge sheet against Bhujbal

Chhagan Bhujbal, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, is currently in judicial custody. —file photo

Chhagan Bhujbal, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, is currently in judicial custody. —file photo

he Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Monday filed a charge sheet against senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal and six others in connection with the alleged misconduct in awarding the contract for construction of a government central library in Kalina during Bhujbal’s tenure as Public Works Department minister.

Bhujbal, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate and is currently in judicial custody, is facing a slew of charges, including misuse of official position, graft, and money laundering. His son Pankaj and nephew Sameer are also under the scanner. Sameer, too, is in judicial custody after being arrested by the ED earlier this year.

The ACB had on June 8, 2015, filed an FIR against Bhujbal and five others who were officials of the PWD at the time when the contract for the library was awarded to a private realty firm in Mumbai.

On Monday, the ACB filed a 17,400-page charge sheet against Bhujbal, Gajanan Sawant, who was sub-divisional engineer, PWD, at the time, Harish Patil, who was executive engineer, Anil Kumar Gaikwad, the then superintendent engineer, and Sanjay Solanki and MH Shah, who were secretaries with the PWD. The ACB has also named Ravindra Sawant, who was a chartered accountant with the PWD, in the charge sheet, bringing the total number of accused in the case to seven.

“Sawant was given the task of ensuring that there was no misconduct in the tendering process. He was found to be part of the conspiracy during our investigations. The charge sheet includes a detailed narration as to how the conspiracy culminated into the offence, and has statements from 63 witnesses and other documentary evidence,” said an ACB officer.

All the accused have been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code. The ACB has contended that the entire process of awarding the contract to a private developer was in violation of conditions laid down by the Revenue and Forest Department, as it was given without prior permission from the Collector. The land was allotted to Mumbai University by the government and four acres of the land were then given to the Directorate of Libraries for construction of a central library. ACB officials said the Revenue and Forest Department had laid down the conditions, according to which the land could not be given to any private person or any other government department by sale or on rent without permission from the Collector.

“This condition renders the entire process, including preparation of a feasibility report, getting sanction from the department core committee, issuing tenders and giving work orders, as having been executed beyond the powers of the officials concerned,” the FIR states.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 3:26:44 am |