In a major relief for seven aides of former PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal — accused of involvement in Maharashtra Sadan and Kalina library scams — the Bombay High Court yesterday granted them interim relief against arrest till May 25. Non-bailable warrants (NBWs) were issued by the Sessions Court against all the accused, including these seven, on April 28.
The seven accused were identified as Asif Balwa, brother of Shahid Balwa, Jagdish Prasad Purohit, Vipul Karkaria, Praveen-kumar Jain, Rajesh Mistry and Chandrashekar Sarda and Sanjeev Jain, chartered accountants from West Bengal. All of them have been charged with helping Bhujbal launder money.
After the special PMLA Judge PR Bhavake rejected applications filed by the seven accused for staying the NBWs, senior counsels Mahesh Jethmalani and Shirish Gupte moved the high court. Seeking relief for their clients, they argued before Justice AS Gadkari that the main accused in the Maharashtra Sadan scam, Chamankar brothers, had managed to secure a stay on their NBWs from the Supreme Court through a first party order for six weeks. The counsels sought interim relief for the accused on similar grounds.
Opposing the relief, Special Public Prosecutor Poornima Kantharia argued that since the nature of the offence committed was serious, accused must be present in the court while seeking a stay on the NBWs against them.
After hearing both the sides, Justice Gadkari granted the accused interim relief till May 25 and asked the ED to file a reply on cancellation of NBWs till then.