An investigation into a call received by a sitting judge of the Gujarat High Court from a person who identified himself as an MLA from Petlad in Anand district revealed that the caller was a third party allegedly acting on the behest of an accused who was seeking anticipatory bail.
Justice Bela Trivedi who was hearing the anticipatory bail matter of Vijaybhai Shah, accused of rioting, unlawful assembly, rash driving among other charges under Gujarat Epidemic Diseases Regulation, 2020, received the call from an unknown number on June 23 when Shah’s plea was listed for hearing. The caller identified himself as Niranjan Patel, Congress MLA from Petlad in Anand.
According to the judge’s observation, it appeared that the caller sought to compromise the independence of the court, after which Justice Trivedi ordered a police inquiry.
On Thursday, police submitted statements by the MLA as well as the registered user of the number, Tofik Vohra. It emerged that the MLA knew the accused and his wife, but denied making any such calls. Vhora, who has a photocopy shop, submitted that at the said time of the call, a customer visited his shop and requested to use his phone “to make a call to Delhi as he had some urgent work”.
The person was identified from CCTV footage and apprehended by the local crime branch of Gandhinagar. On Thursday, the mystery caller, Alpesh Patel, a resident of Jitodiya village near Anand, working as an insurance surveyor, submitted before the court that he made the call at the behest of Vijaybhai Shah and his wife Vignatriben.
According to Alpesh, Vijaybhai requested him to make a call in the name of the MLA Niranjan Patel to the judge to help him get anticipatory bail. Alpesh was assured due compensation.
Alpesh stated before the court that on June 23, when he was at Dakor, Vijaybhai informed him of the court’s inquiry and warned him to be careful. Following this, Alpesh left for Gandhinagar, where he was apprehended by the LCB. He also stated that he had all the WhatsApp messages and call records.
Justice Trivedi directed him to state all the facts in detail in the form of an affidavit by Friday so that appropriate action could be initiated against all involved.
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