In troubling news for former Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Devdutt Marathe, a former secretary of the department and Bhujbal’s co-accused in the Maharashtra Sadan scam, is likely to become the prime witness for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), officials said.

Also read: Raiding properties of other accused alerted Chhagan Bhujbal, say ACB officials

Several properties owned by Chhagan Bhujbal and his family had been raided by ACB teams last week. File pic
Several properties owned by Chhagan Bhujbal and his family had been raided by ACB teams last week. File pic

ACB officials added that Marathe, who has already blamed Bhujbal for the irregularities in an affidavit, can strengthen their case against the former minister, who is facing charges of awarding work to private companies without following proper norms and getting kickbacks for awarding contracts.

In an affidavit filed on June 20 before Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and P N Deshmukh of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, Marathe, who was the secretary when Bhujbal was the PWD minister, had said that Bhujbal was responsible for all the irregularities in awarding the contracts for Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.

He said Bhujbal gave the contract for constructing Maharashtra Sadan to Chamankar and family and, instead of giving them money, they were given a plot in Andheri. Marathe said he had objected to this.

Marathe told the court that the Transport and Finance departments had also objected to the move, but Bhujbal managed to get an approval from a committee without telling them about the objections. “Marathe had told the court in writing that Bhujbal should be blamed for all the misdeeds like not inviting tenders and getting kickbacks for allotting projects.

This proves our point against Bhujbal and will strengthen our case against him. Marathe, who is also an accused, has accepted that wrongdoings had taken place in allotting tenders, but he has said that Bhujbal was responsible for them, not him,” said a senior officer from the ACB. ACB officers said that this will help them in their case against Bhujbal, and Marathe can become a star witness in the future, if required.

‘I’m innocent’
When the ACB had raided Marathe’s house in Nagpur, they had found he owns two properties in the Orange City and one in Mumbai, three four-wheelers, and Rs 45 lakh in cash and bonds.

Marathe has also appealed to the Nagpur bench that the FIR against him in the Maharashtra Sadan scam be quashed, as he had not done anything wrong.

Also read: Chhagan Bhujbal has 17 flats, 6 bungalows, 1.8-hectare farmhouse in 3 cities

Marathe contended that he had pointed out the irregularities to Bhujbal, but the decisions of allotting the contracts were taken at a very high level and Marathe had nothing to do with them.

'Transfer cases'
The ACB is now requesting the Nagpur bench to transfer all the cases and appeals related to the Maharashtra Sadan scam to another bench so that they can be heard in a centralised place.