Mumbai: A sessions court which gave a clean chit to state cabinet minister Chhagan Bhujbal, his son Pankaj Bhujbal and nephew Sameer Bhujbal among five others in the Maharashtra Sadan scam case of 2015, said in a detailed 108-page order that the chargesheet had made a vague allegation of Rs. 6.03 crore kickback to Chhagan Bhujbal by a developer, also accused in the case.
The kickback was alleged to have been made in the guise of furniture for Maharashtra Sadan. “It is not the allegation that the said building is without any furniture. It is also not the case that the said furniture is of less value than shown in the invoice..” the court said. Therefore, it said, that is indeed difficult to believe that the amount of Rs. 6.03 crore was indeed not spent against the furniture by the developer and given as kickback through the firm to accused no 1 (Chhagan Bhujbal). It pointed out that in an open inquiry by the ACB of the furniture transaction, the investigating officer had reported to his superior officer in September 2017 that there was no illegality in the transaction.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that probed the case had alleged that the senior Bhujbal, who was then deputy chief minister and PWD minister, had conspired with some officials of the PWD to get a contract in favour of a developer. The ACB claimed a false report was used to downplay the profits to be made by the developer in the project and while he made a profit of 365.33 per cent, it was shown as merely 1.33 per cent. The chargesheet had also alleged that the contract was given without inviting tenders. Chhagan Bhujbal, it claimed, received kickbacks for the favour.
The court said the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has not made out a prima-facie case against them and that though it showed a suspicion against them, they had satisfactorily and properly explained it. Additional Sessions judge HS Satbhai said none of the ingredients constituting the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the IPC are found so that a trial can be conducted against them. Further that there is no sufficient grounds for presuming that they committed the offences for which a trial is necessary. It said each and every allegation and charge has been considered in detail by it and from it, no case is made out to hold a trial against the present accused.
On the senior Bhujbal who was prosecuted under provisions of the PCA, the court said the charge relates to dishonest misappropriation or conversion to his own use the property entrusted with the accused, but neither there is misappropriation, nor conversion for own use or entrustment of property with him. The court said the fact that he did not have any exclusive domain over any property, the particular offences are not made out against him.
On the offence of cheating, it said the prosecution is required to show that one had a fraudulent or dishonest intention while making any representation or promise to anyone. It said there is no material he made any representation or promise to anyone. From the documents, it does not reflect that the state government has been deceived.
Regarding the allegation of criminal conspiracy, Judge Sathbhai said it should be hatched at an initial stage and should last till the completion of the crime. He pointed out that there is no specific allegation that on which day and stage the alleged conspiracy started. It said it is thus difficult to hold even prima facie that the public servants hatched a plan.