Former state home minister Vipul Chaudhary, who was arrested by the Gujarat Police Crime Investigation Department (CID) on December 12 for his alleged involvement in a bonus scam of Rs 14.80 crore, was granted relief by an Ahmedabad sessions court on Friday.
The court permitted him to contest elections to the managing committee of the Mehsana District Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd or Dudhsagar Dairy, scheduled to be on January 5. He can now file his nomination papers.
Chaudhary, former chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), had moved before the Ahmedabad sessions court through his advocate, Gujarat HC counsel Hriday Buch.
Buch contended that procedural safeguards were not followed while arresting Chaudhary and submitted that the arrest was effected “only for the reason that the Election Officer has declared election of the Managing Committee of the Mehsana District Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (Dudhsagar Dairy)”. Candidates were to submit nominations on or before December 20.
After his arrest, Chaudhary moved the court on December 16, seeking it to direct the Investigating Officer to take him to the office of Election Officer of Mehsana District Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Dudhsagar Dairy), obtain the nomination papers, allow him to fill it and send it to the election officer.
Buch requested that Chaudhary be allowed to sign the nomination paper in court and affirm an affidavit in support of the nomination form before the notary. The latter prayer was granted by the court.
The court of additional sessions judge Divyesh Vipinchandra Shah held that Chaudhary’s prayer seeking permission to sign the nomination form does not amount to interference with the process of free and fair election. The court also held that the accused has the right to contest the election and that the prosecution cannot restrain Chaudhary from it on the basis of “unsubstantiated apprehension and merely because an FIR is filed against him”.
The public prosecutor opposed the relief sought by Chaudhary, primarily on the grounds that the investigation was at a crucial stage and with the accused Chaudhary being an “influential political person” who is facing allegations of misappropriating “crores of rupees from the institution in which he intends to contest election”, it is possible that he may tamper with the evidence.
According to police, the former GCMMF chief had allegedly conspired with Mehsana Dudhsagar union officials to siphon off money from a fund meant for paying bonus to workers.
Chaudhary has also filed for bail application before the court, his counsel said.
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