Mumbai High Court ordered ACB to submit its final report on 18 June in AAP case against Chaggan Bhujbal on his alleged kickbacks.
The Aam Aadmi party petition against the kickbacks received by Chaggan Bhujbal and his family members was heard by Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Kulkarni. In the hearing on 18th December 2014 the court had ordered a Special Inquiry Team (SIT) led by the Anti Corruption Bureau and Enforcement Directorate. The purpose was to ascertain if there seemed to be prima facie evidence to investigate the matter further. They were told to file their report in two months time.
The ACB and the ED submitted their separate, sealed, preliminary reports on 26th February 2015. The ACB then filed its second sealed report on 29th April 2015. All the three reports were opened and perused by the bench in the court. They were not made public as the inquiry is still underway.
The ACB requested some more time to complete its inquiry on two of the allegations and to submit a preliminary report on the other allegations. The ED submitted that the view that they could now progress further only when the FIR was registered.
The respondent’s lawyers pleaded against the court ordering an FIR. The lawyers for the petitioners were not present so petitioner Anjali Damania appeared in person and pleaded that the case was pending for too long and justice would only be served if the court immediately ordered an FIR and if the investigation was taken to its logical conclusion. She mentioned that she had also filed another case with the ACB on disproportionate assets of Chaggan Bhujbal was awaiting revert on that too.
The ACB responded that the government had just given permission for them to investigate the disproportionate assets’ case and the investigation was now underway.
The court ruled that ACB should present its final report on 18th June. Meanwhile the investigating authorities were free to register an FIR if they felt the need and they need not wait for direction from the court. The respondents’ lawyers tried to argue against that by the Chief Justice opined that there was sufficient preliminary evidence to merit an FIR and the court would not stop the authorities from taking action if they deemed fit.
It was clear from the demeanor of the court that the SIT reports vindicated the allegations made by AAP on the kickbacks received by Chaggan Bhujbal on awarding contracts during his tenure as PWD Minister, Maharashtra. AAP has shown a clear trail of money into the accounts of companies in which Bhujbal family members are directors and into their trusts. We await the day when an FIR is filed and guilty are punished by the law of the land.
Preeti Sharma Menon