MUMBAI: Opposing the bail plea of former MP Sameer Bhujbal before the Bombay High Court, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today claimed that he played a direct role in the offence of money laundering.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the ED, told vacation judge Justice A S Gadkari that Bhujbal was aware of all the illegalities.
The court should reject his bail plea as money laundering was a serious offence and his actions adversely affected the "financial health" of the country, Singh said.
Sameer Bhujbal, as a director of companies used for laundering ill-gotten money, played a direct role in the crime, he said.
Among other things, Sameer Bhujbal has sought bail on grounds of parity, as his uncle and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal was granted bail in the same case on May 4.
The ED has charged 53 persons including the Bhujbal duo in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam and other cases.
Sameer Bhujbal's lawyer and senior counsel Vikram Chaudhary said he was the only one among the 53 who is still in prison.
Chhagan Bhujbal's lawyer had cited a 2017 order of the Supreme Court which struck down a part of section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) which imposed stringent conditions on bail.
While advocate Chaudhary relied on the SC ruling, ASG Singh said the apex court had struck down only two of the several provisions of section 45.
The watering down of section 45 did not apply to the main offence of money laundering but only to related offences, the ASG argued.
However, Justice Gadkari said the central agency had failed to satisfy the court on this point, and granted the ASG more time to make further arguments.
The court is likely to continue hearing the arguments on June 5.
Chhagan Bhujbal, as PWD minister in Congress-NCP government, allegedly awarded contracts including the one for the construction of Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi to a firm in return for kickbacks.
The Bhujbal duo are also accused of channeling this ill-gotten money through illegal firms.