THE GUJARAT High Court gave a clean chit to state BJP legislator and former state minister Purshottam Solanki in a 2014 bribery case Wednesday. It also quashed and set aside a magistrate court’s order whereby the offence, under IPC section 171E (bribery), was registered against Solanki and summons was ordered to be issued.
In April 2014, Solanki was designated a star campaigner for the BJP in the state Assembly bypoll. At Jasdan, he was found in possession of Rs 2.75 lakh in cash, which is above the Rs 1 lakh-limit prescribed by the Election Commission of India. During the inquiry, Solanki could not provide a satisfactory explanation, thereafter the cash was seized and a police complaint at Jasdan police station was filed in 2015, alleging that Solanki had aimed to malign the election process and entice voters.
A November 2015 police inquiry report submitted before the Jasdan magistrate court had stated that no offence, as alleged, was made out against Solanki. However, the magistrate in December 2015 had directed registration of non-cognisable complaint against the BJP leader. This was challenged before the Gujarat High Court in 2016.
While giving a clean chit, the high court bench of Justice Gita Gopi held Wednesday that ingredients of the offence of bribery was not made out and there was nothing on record “to show that the petitioner (Solanki) had either given or had offered the said amount as a bribe to someone or had accepted the same from anyone, much less any evidence to show that the petitioner had given or had offered any gratification by way of cash amount to any person with the object of inducing him or any other person to exercise any electoral right or of rewarding any person for having exercised any such right”.
Quashing and setting aside the magistrate court’s order as well as any consequent proceedings that may have been initiated, Justice Gopi observed that the order was passed “without any basis” and was based on “assumptions and presumptions”.
Relying on the investigating officer’s records of bank statements and statements of Solanki, his son and security personnel, who was then accompanying the BJP leader, the HC verdict stated: “No cogent reasons have been assigned by the court below while directing registration of complaint under section 171E of IPC…”
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