Mumbai, Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal was today remanded in custody of Enforcement Directorate till March 17 by a special court here, a day after he was arrested by the agency in a money laundering case in connection with the alleged Maharashtra Sadan scam.
Bhujbal, a former deputy chief minister, was produced before the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court where ED counsel Hiten Venegaonkar said he did not cooperate when his statement was recorded by the agency yesterday.
“For most of the questions put to him, his answer was ‘he doesn’t know’,” Venegaonkar told the court.
The court then remanded Bhujbal in ED custody till Thursday.
Bhujbal was put under arrest last night after 10-hour questioning by ED at its Ballard Pier office in South Mumbai.
Bhujbal became emotional while pleading innocence and his eyes became misty.
He told the court he had not done anything wrong and he was being framed as part of a conspiracy.
“I have not done anything wrong. I have cooperated. I have been into social service for the past 50 years. When some questions were put to me (by ED), I genuinely said that I did not know, but still I was arrested,” he said.
Bhujbal said he did not grant the contract in question and merely followed the directions of then Chief Minister (late) Vilasrao Deshmukh.
“CM Vilasrao Deshmukh told me to take meetings and I followed that. I did not grant contract,” he said.
Bhujbal said some disgruntled employees of the Mumbai Education Trust (MET), a trust run by him, cooked up the story against him.
MET founder trustee Sunil Karve had lodged a complaint of alleged misappropriation of funds with the EOW and the charity commissioner against Bhujbal and his family.
“Why am I arrested when they can call me again and again to ED. It’s a conspiracy to frame me,” he told the court.
ED filed two FIRs against Bhujbal, his son and nephew and others under the provisions of PMLA, based on Mumbai Police FIRs, to probe the Delhi-based Maharashtra Sadan construction scam and the Kalina land grabbing case.
The new Maharashtra Sadan was built at the cost of Rs 100 crore when Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.
The senior NCP leader had alleged political vendetta behind his arrest.
The ED had registered a PMLA case involving the Bhujbals and some of their associates and has already arrested the ex-minister’s nephew Samir last month in the case.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau has already filed a charge sheet against Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Sameer and 14 others in the Maharashtra Sadan scam case.