Times of India: Mumbai: Tuesday May 2, 2017.
A key witness in the Maharashtra Sadan scam, in which former home minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal is embroiled, has been threatened to withdraw from the case. The witness, architect Shirish Sukhatme, informed the investigation officer of the case that he received a threatening letter last week. He has filed a complaint at the Bandra police station.
In the letter, Sukhatme was told to withdraw in seven days his property valuation report on the basis of which the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) registered a corruption case against Bhujbal, his associate K S Chamankar and others for causing a financial loss to the government. Sources said the threat to Sukhatme could be an attempt to weaken the valuation report to influence the case in court in favour of the accused. As per the threat, if Sukhatme doesn't do as instructed, a complaint against him will be made to the Council of Architects (for charging below market rates from the ACB) and the wealth tax department (for not giving an impartial valuation of the property).
The letter alleges that Sukhatme's valuation of the Andheri RTO plot was not impartial and was done on the ACB's instructions to suit its case. It says that because of his report, the development of a slum on the plot was unnecessarily withheld; also, he did the valuation before his official appointment for the purpose.
Two months ago, one of the accused in the case procured the ACB's office record through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.The record showed that the ACB had registered the FIR in the scam before appointing Sukhatme to conduct the property's valuation, on the basis of which the ACB has claimed that it has registered a corruption case. This has raised a legal question on the ACB's case.Sources say the issue is in court now.
The ACB's case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and a money laundering case by the ED (enforcement directorate) are at trial stage. Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer are in jail because of the ED case.