A special court on Monday rejected the anticipatory bail application of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya in case related to alleged siphoning off funds collected to restore INS Vikrant, the Indian Navy’s first aircraft carrier, Live Law reported.
Somaiya and his son Neil were booked by the Mumbai Police on April 6 based on a complaint filed by a 53-year-old former Army officer, identified as Baban Bhosle.
According to the complaint, Somaiya, a former MP, started a campaign between 2013 and 2014 to raise funds to restore the aircraft carrier and collected over Rs 57 crore. However, the money was not deposited with the Maharashtra governor’s secretary office but rerouted into his own business, the complainant claimed,
At Monday’s hearing, the court said that there is photographic evidence that Kirit Somaiya collected the money along with a letter claiming that he would deposit the money with the governor, which he did not, Live Law reported.
Senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, representing the BJP leader, said that the father and son were being targeted due to political vendetta. He also alleged that the case has been filed after a gap of over seven years under the influence of a specific political party, Live Law reported.
Mundargi told the court that political parties, including the Congress and the Shiv Sena, had started the “Save INS Vikrant” campaign. Therefore, utilisation of funds is not Somaiya’s concern, he said, according to Bar and Bench.
The Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police opposed the anticipatory bail application, noting that Somaiya did not appear before the investigating officer and approached the court instead, Live Law reported.
The police said that the accused person had admitted to collecting funds and had not sought permission from any competent authority to do so.
Considering Somaiya’s position in society as an influential person and his role as a former MP, he may tamper with the evidence or put pressure on the complainant, the police added.
They added that the complainant is not linked to any political party.
A case has been registered against Somaiya and his son under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
The court will pronounce the order on Neil’s anticipatory bail plea on Tuesday. Additional Sessions Judge RN Rokade presided on the matter, Bar and Bench reported.