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‘Funds raised were utilised for personal expenses’: Gujarat HC dismisses bail application of TMC leader Saket Gokhale in crowdfunding case

Gokhale had moved the High Court seeking bail after he was denied relief by the Additional Sessions Judge, Ahmedabad Alkeshkumar Bhojak on January 12.

The Gujarat High Court Thursday dismissed the bail application filed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale in the case where he is accused of misusing money he had collected through crowdfunding. While dismissing the bail plea, the court observed that prima facie it appears that Gokhale had utilised the funds raised for his personal expenses.

Noting that the case is of the nature of fraud and cheating and that the investigation is still going on and that the necessary evidence is to be recovered, the court denied bail to the TMC leader.

On December 29, Gokhale was arrested in Delhi by the Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch. Gokhale is accused of misappropriating ₹1.07 crore collected from the public through crowd-funding. Saket Gokhale was charged under sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), and 467 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code.

Gokhale had moved the High Court seeking bail after he was denied relief by the Additional Sessions Judge, Ahmedabad Alkeshkumar Bhojak on January 12.

While rejecting his bail application on Monday (January 23), the Gujarat High Court said that the TMC spokesperson can apply for bail once the chargesheet is filed against him. Notably, the Gujarat police are yet to file a charge sheet in the case.

Single-judge bench of Justice Samir Dave, in the order passed on January 23, noted that there was a prima facie case against Gokhale and that the allegations against Gokhale were “serious” in nature.

“It appears that there are serious allegations against the applicant. The investigation is going on and the charge sheet is yet to be filed….it appears that funding raised for the welfare of the people was utilized by the applicant for his personal expenses,” the court stated in his order dated January 23.

The prosecution appears to have clearly built a prima facie case against the accused, the Court added while rejecting bail.

According to the testimony of witnesses, Gokhale received money not only from the complainant’s wife but also from 1,767 other people. According to the Court, these funds were collected through social media, with the majority of transactions taking place online.

“There are many transactions, which appear to have been done on prima-facie going through the bank account statement, so it cannot be denied that some transactions might be done for his personal usage or not, which is a question of fact and can only be decided by evidence at the time of trial and not at the stage of investigation when the charge sheet is yet to be filed,” the judge observed. 

ED arrests TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale and his repeated arrests

TMC leader Saket Gokhale was arrested by the Gujarat Police in December last year for siphoning off money in the name of activism. The police had found accounts linked to Gokhale where he was receiving money, which he claimed was being used for legal fees for activism-related cases but was instead being used for personal expenses. Before that, he was arrested by Gujarat police for spreading fake news about PM Modi.

On January 25, the Enforcement Directorate arrested Gokhale under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in Ahmedabad and sent him to custody till January 31 by a city court.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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