Chhattisgarh police file FIR against Ex-CM Bhupesh Baghel in Mahadev App Case

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Chhattisgarh Police has filed an FIR in the investigation of the Mahadev Online Book app scam, with former Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel now named as an accused. This scam, estimated to be worth Rs.6,000 crore, is expected to present significant legal challenges for the Congress leader, especially with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Baghel faces charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including cheating, criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, and forgery, along with sections 7 and 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act reported Hindustan Times. The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) filed the First Information Report (FIR) in Raipur on March 4, linking Baghel, Mahadev promoters, along with 16 other named accused individuals and several unnamed bureaucrats, police officers, and officers on special duty (OSDs) from Baghel’s tenure as Chief Minister.

The case against Baghel arises from references sent by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 8 and 30, based on findings suggesting the involvement of high-level state government officials in facilitating illegal activities of Mahadev in exchange for alleged “protection money.” The ED had previously alleged that Mahadev App promoters paid bribes amounting to Rs.508 crore to Baghel.

According to the FIR, Mahadev Book App and its associates illegally collected Rs.450 crore worth of profits every month, with allegations of bribes being paid to police officials, bureaucrats, and influential political figures to avoid legal action against their unlawful betting activities. Despite these claims, the FIR doesn’t mention any senior police or administrative officers.

With the possibility of Baghel facing a fresh money laundering case based on this FIR, the situation brings in legal challenges, as he prepares to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Rajnandgaon seat. Baghel’s political adviser was approached for comment but did not respond.

The ED’s findings suggest a deep-rooted nexus involved in the scam, with alleged spending on events like Mahadev App promoters wedding in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, which supposedly involved Rs.200 crore in cash and chartered private jets to ferry guests. The ED has already seized or frozen assets worth Rs.572.41 crores in connection with the case, which is projected to involve proceeds of crime totalling Rs.6,000 crores.

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