MUMBAI: Sameer Bhujbal, the nephew of senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, today urged the Bombay High Court to grant him interim bail in a money laundering case on the grounds of parity with his uncle, who was given relief on May 4.
Chhagan Bhujbal and Sameer Bhujbal were arrested in 2016 after ED claimed that the former and his associates allegedly misused their office and caused financial loss to the government. Sameer Bhujbal's lawyer Vikram Chaudhary told a vacation bench of the high court that since the "main accused" in the case, Chhagan Bhujbal, had recently been granted bail by the court, he too must at least be granted an interim bail.
Chaudhary told the bench led by Justice V L Achilya that the maximum punishment under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act was seven years and he had already been in custody for over two years.
"The probe in the case is complete, and I deserve to be granted bail on the primary ground that the main accused (Chhagan Bhujbal) has already been granted bail in the case.
This same court granted him bail and its order can be the basis for my bail," Sameer Bhujbal said.
Sameer Bhujbal, his uncle and former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, and 51 others were charged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in 2016 for various offences, including alleged corruption in the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.
While Chhagan Bhujbal was granted bail on May 4 this year by another bench of the high court, a vacation bench presided by Justice Bharati Dangre had refused to grant any interim relief to Sameer Bhujbal last week.
Advocate Chaudhary argued today that of the 53 accused in the case, Sameer Bhujbal was the only one still in custody.
The court has now kept the case for a detailed hearing on May 17.
According to the ED, Sameer Bhujbal and Chhagan Bhujbal had awarded contracts related to construction and development works, including one for the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, to a particular firm, in return for kickbacks for himself and his family.
As per the ED, Chhagan Bhujbal, during his term as the state PWD minister, and Sameer Bhujbal used to channel such money to illegal companies owned by them.
Chhagan Bhujbal, 70, had approached the high court in January this year seeking bail on the grounds that his custody was not required anymore as the charge sheet was already filed and citing his ill-health.
While granting him bail, Justice P N Deshmukh had cited Chhagan Bhujbal's old age, and also the fact that he had cooperated with the ED probe.