Former Gujarat home minister Vipul Chaudhary, arrested over Rs 750-800-crore financial irregularities that allegedly took place when he was the Dudhsagar Dairy chairman, has approached the high court for bail.
A Mehsana district court on September 30 rejected his bail plea, taking into consideration the gravity of the offence, the role attributed to him, his prior conduct as well as criminal antecedents and the fact that the investigation is ongoing.
On Thursday the Gujarat High Court posted his petition for hearing on October 20.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau, in a joint operation with the Detection of Crime Branch in Ahmedabad, arrested Chaudhary and his personal assistant Shailesh Parikh on September 15 for offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
It has been alleged that Chaudhary misused his powers and, in violation of standard operating procedures and guidelines, issued work orders and contracts, resulting in “financial irregularities”. These allegedly included the bulk purchase of milk coolers without issuing tenders, awarding construction contracts to bidders who quoted prices higher than the lowest bidder, and similarly awarding contracts for erecting the dairy’s banners and hoardings.
Arguing for bail before the Mehsana court, Chaudhary had submitted that the initiation of criminal proceedings after more than five years– the period of offence was stated as 2005-2016–suggested that “it (FIR) is a product of a potential mind with an intention to defame and pressurise” him. He also argued that the allegations were “vague and fabricated” and amounted to “nothing but unnecessary harassment and abuse of the process of law”.
Chaudhary also submitted that with respect to the allegations over Rs 458 crore’s worth of constructions in 2011-12 and 2012-13, it was not the case that constructions were not carried out. Instead, he said, he had resurfaced the entire construction of the dairy and given it a new look.
As for the allegation that he had routed ill-gotten funds to 31 companies, Chaudhary said the companies had “nothing to do with the dairy” and were separate businesses that he continued to run as per law.