Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale was again denied bail on Thursday by an Ahmedabad court in a case of alleged misuse of money collected through crowdfunding, reported PTI.
Additional Sessions Judge AB Bhojak noted in his order that there was a strong case against Gokhale and added that being a political worker he might “hamper and tamper with evidence” if released on bail at this stage.
Gokhale was previously denied bail in the case on January 5 by a magistrate court, following which he moved the sessions court.
The Trinamool Congress leader was arrested by the Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch from Delhi on December 30. This was the third time that the Gujarat Police had arrested him in a month.
This case is based on a first information report registered on a complaint filed by an Ahmedabad resident who claimed to have donated Rs 500 to Gokhale, reported NDTV.
The prosecution alleged that the Trinamool Congress spokesperson collected over Rs 70 lakh from more than 1,700 persons through a crowdfunding platform and used that money for personal use.
Gokhale has been charged under Sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), and 467 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code.
Meanwhile, Gokhale has claimed that he is a victim of political vendetta and was being “unjustly arrested in one FIR after another” by the Gujarat Police, reported PTI.
“Prosecution did not have any proof to establish that he had used the funds in question for his personal purposes, and they were utilised for social work,” Gokhale’s counsel told the court.
Earlier in December, Gokhale had been arrested twice within four days over a news clipping he shared on social media about a purported Right to Information application that claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Morbi bridge collapse site cost Rs 30 crore. However, the Press Information Bureau had flagged that the information was fake.
The prime minister had visited Morbi on November 1, a day after the bridge on the Machchu river collapsed, leaving 141 people dead.
Gokhale was first held in Jaipur on December 5 by the Gujarat Police without the knowledge of the Rajasthan Police. He was formally arrested after being brought to Ahmedabad, and subsequently sent to police custody till December 8. The Gujarat Police had alleged that Gokhale tweeted fake news about Modi’s visit to Morbi to get political mileage.
On December 8, an Ahmedabad court granted him bail, but he was soon re-arrested in another case filed in the Morbi district. The Morbi Police accused Gokhale of allegedly “promoting enmity between classes during the elections” apart from spreading fake news about Modi.
On December 9, Gokhale managed to get bail in the second case as well.