The Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by NCP MLA Pankaj Bhujbal, son of former Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal, challenging an order of the Charity Commissioner summoning him for a trial related to an alleged fraud at the Mumbai Education Trust.
Justice M S Sonak held that the Charity Commissioner has the same powers as a civil court and can summon anyone while conducting a hearing. Sunil Karve, a founder trustee of MET and a chartered accountant by profession, has filed a complaint before the Charity Commissioner alleging a fraud of Rs 177 crore at the institution.
The Commissioner had recently summoned Pankaj Bhujbal, one of the trustees, to appear last week. Bhujbal challenged the order in the High Court. Karve has accused Chhagan Bhujbal and his family members, who are among the trustees of MET, of misappropriating Rs 177 crore of the trust funds and misusing its office building at the Bandra Reclamation in Mumbai.
Karve, who co-founded MET in 1989 with Bhujbal, had earlier filed a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai Police, alleging that Bhujbal family had usurped an entire floor in the MET building, using it as residence and also as the office of their furniture business.
Karve also filed an application through his lawyer Sayaji Nangre before the Charity Commissioner to seek dismissal of Bhujbal, his wife Meena, Pankaj and nephew Sameer as trustees. Chhagan Bhujbal had dubbed the complaint as 'politically-motivated'.