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Relief to Kirit Somaiya as Bombay HC grants interim protection to BJP leader in cheating case

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai has directed Somaiya's release against personal bond of Rs 50,000 in case of arrest

Urvi Mahajani | Updated on: Wednesday, April 13, 2022, 04:38 PM IST

Relief to Kirit Somaiya as Bombay HC grants protection to BJP leader in cheating case | Photo: Facebook
Relief to Kirit Somaiya as Bombay HC grants protection to BJP leader in cheating case | Photo: Facebook
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In a major reprieve for BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted him interim protection from arrest till April 28 in an alleged cheating case of misappropriation of public money collected for restoration of Indian Navy’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai has directed Somaiya's release against personal bond of Rs 50,000 in case of arrest.

The court, while granting relief to the BJP leader, remarked that the allegations made in the FIR were "vague" and based mainly on news reports.

"Prima facie, apart from the complaint that is so vague and based solely on media reports, there is no basis for the complaint. Unfortunately, from 2013 to 22, nothing is done, no complaint lodged," the Court said adding that "it is a fit case for grant of interim relief."

Asking Somaiya to cooperate with the investigation, the Court has asked him to report to Investigation officer in the case for four days, beginning from April 18, between 11 am and 2 pm.

Somaiya’s counsel Ashok Mundargi argued that it was a "highly politicised matter." He contended that during the time, many campaigns were held to collect funds to save INS Vikrant, and one of them was led by Somaiya outside Churchgate station.

In December 2013, Rs 11,224 was collected at Churchgate station. However, in 2014, the BMC and the state government backed out and INS Vikrant was scrapped. "No one knows where this figure of Rs 57 crore came from," said Mundargi.

On a court query, Mundargi said that the BJP leader was not sure as to what happened to the Rs 11,000 collected at Churchgate station.

Mungargi said that the Governor didn't respond to their letter on this amount collected by them. "The money must be lying with some party worker or deposited somewhere," said Mundargi.

Opposing the plea, government counsel Shirish Gupte said that investigation was still on and they need to interrogate both, Somaiya and the complainant.

Seeking Somaiya's custody, Gupte said the police was unaware of his whereabouts. "We need some time and we need his (Somaiya’s) custody. His (Somaiya’s) whereabouts are not known. We couldn't trace him," said Gupte. He further said that the police had to paste 41 A CrPC notice (asking him to report for questioning) at his residence.

Mundargi said that Somaiya was willing to cooperate with the investigation. The BJP leader left Mumbai apprehending that he would be arrested without getting a chance to approach the court, argued Mundargi.

A case was registered at the Trombay police station against Somaiya and his son Neil for cheating by an ex-armyman who claimed to have donated to the cause. He claimed that he was not even given a receipt for his amount.

His complaint alleges that the money collected was neither used for restoration purpose nor donated to the Governor's office.

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Published on: Wednesday, April 13, 2022, 04:38 PM IST