Jailed leader had contended that the ED had arrested him illegally.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court has dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by NCP leader and former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal that had challenged his arrest and subsequent custody. The court said he had failed to establish that his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in March this year in a money-laundering case was illegal. Bhujbal had earlier also contended that a lower court hadn’t applied its mind while granting the ED his custody, but the HC said he could not prove his allegation in this regard.
While passing the order, the court has observed that “when Bhujbal was arrested, the ED had informed him at 10.05 pm and taken his signature on the arrest order, and so it has been presumed that the petitioner knew that he was arrested”. The court further said that “the petitioner is not some illiterate person but an educated one as he was a minister in the government for several years”.
A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi further observed that Bhujbal was produced before a PMLA court within 24 hours of his arrest and he was remanded to two days of custody, apart from the reason for his arrest being cited in the remand copy. If he didn’t know any reason for his arrest, he could have said the same to the PMLA court, the bench observed.
The court also observed that the ED had taken his custody several times and he had engaged reputed lawyers who opposed his remand at every step in the court. So it is difficult to believe that he didn’t know the reason behind his arrest, the court said.
It added that while hearing was on for his bail application, he had not raised this issue before the lower court, and it is clearly an afterthought if he was doing so after eight months.
The HC also cited an apex court observation in its order, saying that economic offences that have a deep-rooted conspiracy and involve a huge loss of public funds need to be viewed seriously and considered as grave offences affecting the economy as a whole, thus posing a serious threat to the country’s financial health.
Leader sent back to jail:
The special PMLA court on Wednesday allowed an application filed by Arthur Road jail authorities and directed that former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal be taken back from Sir J.J. Hospital to jail immediately. The order passed by special judge P.R. Bhavake said Bhujbal should be immediately shifted to jail. The court has directed the jail authorities to inform Bhujbal to contact his relatives for a discussion and then inform jail authorities about his readiness to undergo angiography. Thereafter the accused would be admitted in a government hospital for undergoing the said test. At the time of reporting, Bhujbal was in the process of being ferried from the hospital back to jail.