A sessions court in Ahmedabad on Thursday rejected the bail application of 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.
The court relied particularly on the statements of the witnesses and bank statements, and opined that “prima-facie it appears that there is substance in the FIR”.
The court also found the prosecution’s argument that Chaudhary, former home minister of Gujarat and former chairman of Dudhsagar Dairy, is an a influential person and is likely to “hamper the ongoing investigation” if let out on bail at this stage, noting his criminal antecedents.
The court of additional sessions judge Divyesh Shah also considered the prosecution’s submission that an amount of more than Rs 10 crore was deposited in the bank account of Chaudhary and that statements of those who transferred the amount was yet to be recorded.
“…keeping in mind the observations of Hon’ble Apex Court that economic offences are grave offence affecting the economy of the country… and in view of the fact that corruption is a really a human rights violation,… this Court is not inclined to exercise judicial discretion in favour of applicant (Chaudhary),” the court adjudged.
Chaudhary who was represented by senior advocate Shalin Mehta and advocate RJ Goswami submitted that while the FIR had recorded the alleged offence from July 2019 to October 2019, there was a “deliberate delay” in lodging the FIR despite a complaint filed in March 2020, in a “strategic game played by the government with a view to see that Chaudhary may not contest the election of Dudhsagar Dairy”. It was also submitted that while an inquiry had been going on for the past nine months based on the misappropriation complaint, the police never took Chaudhary’s statement.
It was argued by Chaudhary’s counsels that he did not use any amount of the dairy regarding bonus and the amount given to Chaudbary was voluntarily given by other employees and the amount of over Rs 9 crore was not a bonus amount of the employees as alleged by the prosecution.
Chaudhary challenged that the charges slapped against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act did not stand as Dudhsagar Dairy is not taking any grant from the state government and Chaudhary is not a public servant. The court opined that this argument can be determined during the course of trial and not at this stage. The prosecution submitted that Chaudhary “hatched a conspiracy with the other co- accused and caused a loss to the tune of Rs 22.50 crore to the Dudhsagar Dairy”, following which a tribunal had directed him to deposit 40% amount of Rs 22.50 crore, which comes to over Rs 9 crore.
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