Anti-Corruption Bureau lodges FIR against Chhagan Bhujbal, five others

The ACB booked the former deputy chief minister and five senior executives of the PWD for discrepancies in the construction of a central library in Kalina

An FIR has been registered against former deputy chief minister and public works department (PWD) minister Chhagan Bhujbal, and five senior executives of the department by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for not following the proper procedure while giving land for construction of a library in Kalina.

Bhujbal, who is from the NCP; Gajanan Sawant, the then sub-divisional engineer of the PWD; Harish Patil, then executive engineer; Anil Kumar Gaikwad, then superintendent engineer; and Sanjay Solanki and M H Shah, who were then secretaries with the department, have been booked by the ACB under 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (whoever obtains pecuniary benefits using his position as a public servant).

They have also been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 420, 465, 471, 474, 477, 120 B and 34 (cheating, forgery, using as genuine a forged document, possession of document knowing it to be forged, fraudulent cancellation, destruction, criminal conspiracy and acts done by several person in furtherance of common intention).

According to ACB sources, the Bombay High Court had ordered them to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) along with Enforcement Directorate officials, and investigate the alleged frauds committed by Bhujbal on the petition filed by then Aam Aadmi Party leader Anjali Damania.

The case
The case goes back to 1986, when the Mumbai University had transferred around four acres of land at its Kalina campus to the state government with the purpose of constructing a central library. In 2009, the PWD issued a tender to construct the library on two acres, with the firm getting rights to utilise the remaining for construction of residential apartments.

In July 2009, Indiabulls was awarded the contract, as per which it would build a six-storeyed library at an estimated cost of Rs 300 crore. The value of the remaining plot was estimated at R500 crore. Indiabulls got the land at R1 per sq m for the remaining 2 acres. After this, Bhujbal’s public welfare foundation allegedly received R2.45 crore from Indiabulls.

Bhujbal had claimed he got the amount for the Nashik Festival as his NGO was working for it. “I am happy that the ACB has finally registered an FIR against Bhujbal. I was expecting it much earlier but hope the ACB does justice now at least. They have to answer to the High Court on June 15 and so I think they have registered the FIR now,” said Damania.

ACB says
“We have found that there were discrepancies and proper process was not followed while issuing the tender in this case and so an FIR was registered,” said Kishor Jadhav, Mumbai Head of ACB. The ACB will be investigating the case and, sources say, it is likely to arrest Bhujbal soon.

Under the scanner
The ACB is already investigating the Maharashtra Sadan scam, in which Chhagan Bhujbal is allegedly involved, and has formed different teams of policemen to investigate allegations of corruption in the Mumbai-Nashik Toll Road, redevelopment of the MIG colony at Bandra, High Mount guesthouse furniture scam and Thane road works.

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