In a relief to Congress MLA Kirit Patel, against whom Patan police filed a case of cheating and fraud for alleged embezzlement of funds, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday directed the state to not take any coercive action against him till December 26, and issued a notice to the government.
Police had filed the FIR against the MLA under IPC sections 409, 467 and 468 on a complaint lodged by the vice-chancellor of Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University (HNGU), B A Prajapati.
The university has accused Patel of embezzling government funds over Rs 1 crore during 2012-2016 period when he was the principal of MN College, affiliated to the university. Patel continues to be on the rolls of the college but is on “leave without pay” after he got elected to the Assembly last year.
Prajapati told The Indian Express that as a lecturer and in-charge principal of the college, Patel was authorised to arrange interviews for recruitment of teaching staff in self-financed colleges of the university in five districts — Patan,
Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and Arvalli — for which the university charges some fees from the colleges.
According to Prajapati, Patel collected the charges in cash instead of bank cheques.
“We issued notices to the MLA, asking him why did he not deposit the money to the university. We also wrote to MN College about it… But the MLA’s replies were vague. So I filed a police complaint to recover the money that Patel had embezzled. It is university money and I being a trustee have a duty to recover it,” Prajapati said.
Prajapati said that as per the statements of 193 colleges received so far, Patel was paid a total of over Rs 82 lakh. “We have yet not received replies from another 58 colleges. When we receive their statements, it might cross Rs 1 crore,” said the V-C.
Patel in his petition to the High Court claimed that he was being framed by the vice-chancellor. He alleged that the vice-chancellor “wants revenge for forcing his son to resign from a varsity post”. Patel has also said in the petition that since he had accused the vice-chancellor of misusing of his office, he is being harassed out of vengeance.
According to Patel, the FIR against him was lodged on December 6 midnight by the V-C, which he said, shows how he was being framed. He said that the FIR was lodged only after the V-C came to know that he has moved the High Court.
While Patel, considered close to Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel, could not be contacted despite several efforts, Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that the complaint against the MLA was false. “Kirit Patel raised voices against several malpractices by Prajapati and filed a case in the Gujarat High Court. That is why the V-C personally got the FIR registered. In normal course, it is the registrar who lodges the complaint in such matters. But V-C himself became the complainant, suggesting that it is not a genuine case,” said Doshi.