Chhagan Bhujbal to stay behind bars after HC quashes plea

Updated: Dec 14, 2016, 18:31 IST | Vinay Dalvi |

Ex-minister had challenged arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002


Chhagan Bhujbal was arrested by the ED on March 14 this year

The Bombay high court on Wednesday dismissed the habeas corpus (illegal detention) petition filed by former deputy chief minister of state, Chhagan Chandrakant Bhujbal making it clear that Bhujbal will remain behind bars.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had arrested Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer for laundering money to the tune of R870 crore. The money was generated from kickbacks in the New Maharashtra Sadan and Kalina Library Scam where the Anti-Corruption Bureau registered a case against them. The ED registered an offence for laundering the kickback money.

Former deputy chief minister of state, Chhagan Bhujbal’s habeas corpus petition (illegal detention) was heard by the bench of Justice Ranjit More and Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi.

Bhujbal, who has been arrested by the ED on March 14 this year, has  challenged section 19 in the habeas corpus petition which gives powers to arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. Bhujbal has also said in his petition that the Enforcement Directorate, while arresting him, had not followed proper procedure under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc).

Counsel for Vikram Chaudhary had argued before the bench of justice Ranjit More and Dr Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi that he is being illegally detained by the ED, which is in complete violation of the law on the part of the agency. The arrest is in violation of article 21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution (Protection of life and personal liberty and Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases) the lawyer claimed.

Bhujbal’s counsel has also claimed that ED registered Economic Case Information Reports (ECIRs), which are not First Information Reports (FIRs) under which people are mostly arrested.

Meanwhile, additional solicitor general Anil Singh and advocate Hiten Venegonakar had argued before the court that Bhujbal was arrested on March 14 and in two days he was sent to judicial court by the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court. Since then, the court has been granting him judicial custody.

“He has been produced in court from time to time and so the question of filing a Habeas Corpus did not arise as at this moment he is not in our custody also,” Singh had claimed before the bench.

On Wednesday, however, the bench pronouncing the judgment in his petition dismissed his plea. Bhujbal had pinned all hopes on the petition claiming that he was illegally detained and for the first time his son Pankaj and other family members were seen in courts supporting and talking to the lawyers of family.

Bhujbal was recently transferred from Bombay Hospital back to St George Hospital and back to Arthur Road jail after staying for around 50 days in Bombay Hospital.

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