A MAGISTERIAL COURT in Morbi on Monday convicted Nima Acharya, Protem Speaker of Gujarat Assembly, former BJP MLA Kantilal Amrutiya and Patidar quota stir leader Manoj Panara for trying to bribe voters in run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and sentenced them to one year of imprisonment and imposed Rs1,000 fine on each. However, the court granted plea of the convicts to stay the sentence for a month so that they can approach a higher court against the verdict.
Delivering its verdict, the court of Jignesh Damodra, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, held Acharya, Amrutiya and Panara guilty under Section 171 (b) (offering gratification to voters) and 114 (common intent) of the IPC. However, the court acquitted the trio of the charge of Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the IPC for want of evidence.
The case was filed by the Election Commission after Amrutiya and Acharya promised BJP workers “gifts” if they succeeded in garnering certain number of votes for the party in wards of Morbi municipality and Assembly constituencies in Kutch Parliamentary seat during the 2009 Lok Sabha election. The duo, then sitting BJP MLAs from Bhuj and Morbi, respectively, had made the promise at a party workers’ meeting in of Morbi town on March 3, 2009. A J Patel, then deputy collector of Morbi who was on election duty as assistant returning officer for Kutch Lok Sabha seat, had filed a complaint with police on March 25, 2009 in this connection.