‘Bogus’ voting: Gujarat HC stays arrest warrant against state minister

Solanki moved the petition against the order of the Bhavnagar court, seeking stay on the warrant and quashing of the complaint through his lawyer Rajesh Gidiya.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Updated: November 26, 2016 9:21 am
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The Gujarat High Court on Friday granted relief to BJP minister Parshottam Solanki by staying an arrest warrant issued against him by a Bhavnagar court in connection with 17-year- old case of alleged bogus voting. Solanki moved the petition against the order of the Bhavnagar court, seeking stay on the warrant and quashing of the complaint through his lawyer Rajesh Gidiya. Justice J B Pardiwala, while admitting the petition, ordered to stay the arrest warrant against Solanki, fisheries minister in the state government.

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In 1996, during the general elections, an FIR had been lodged with Vertej police station in Bhavnagar district under section 120B (conspiracy), 171 D (personation at elections) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code against Solanki and two others — Atul Koli and Dinesh Koli — who were working as his polling agents.

The local police had filed a chargesheet against Solanki and his two associates in 1999. Solanki was shown as absconding accused. The court issued the process to Solanki, following which he filed a discharge application in the same year, which was rejected after a prolonged hearing in 2015.

Senior lawyer Zubin Bharda, arguing for Solanki, told the court that the concerned magistrate, who issued the arrest warrant, doesn’t have the jurisdiction to take cognizance. Solanki has been a controversial minister whose name figures in a multi-crore fisheries scam.

A Gandhinagar court had issued non-bailable warrant against him in December 2015, which was also stayed by the High Court in January this year. He is accused of granting fishing contracts for 58 reservoirs to his favourite parties while bypassing the mandatory auctioning process in 2008 when he was holding the same portfolio.

In the FIR, it was alleged that the police had found 19 bottles of liquid in the vehicle which the two accused agents of Solanki were travelling in. The forensic test revealed that through liquid, voting mark in the finger can be wiped out. The FIR alleged that both the persons had conspired to use the material for bogus voting.