Crowd-funding 'misuse' case: Gujarat HC denies bail to TMC leader Saket Gokhale

NewsDrum Desk
23 Jan 2023
Crowd-funding 'misuse' case: Gujarat HC denies bail to TMC leader Saket Gokhale

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Monday refused regular bail to Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale in a case related to alleged misuse of money collected through crowd-funding.

High Court Justice Samir Dave asked Gokhale to approach the court only after a chargesheet is filed.

"We will consider the plea only after the charge sheet is filed," said Justice Dave.

The TMC leader had approached the high court after a sessions court and a magistrate's court in Ahmedabad denied him bail recently following his arrest and expiry of remand.

He has been in judicial custody since January 5 and lodged at a jail in Ahmedabad.

Senior advocate Asim Pandya, appearing for the TMC leader, sought relief saying stringent Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections, including forgery, have been intentionally invoked against Gokhale to make sure that he does not get bail.

"There was no element of forgery in funds collected by Gokhale through an online platform which is used by even political parties. He is innocent and made a scapegoat. He is a full-time activist sustaining on donations received through crowdfunding. As soon as he joined TMC, he stopped accepting funds to prove his bonafide," Pandya said.

On the allegation of the misappropriation or personal use of funds, Pandya told the high court that since Gokhale is a full-time activist, there cannot be bifurcation that "this much fund is for running campaigns and this much for personal use".

Gokhale was arrested by the Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch from Delhi on December 30, 2022, in a case of alleged misuse of money he had collected through crowdfunding.

He is facing charges under sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 467 (forgery) of the IPC.

The First Information Report was registered on a complaint filed by an Ahmedabad resident who claimed to have donated Rs 500 to Gokhale through online mode.

According to police, the case was not just about Rs 500 as Gokhale allegedly collected over Rs 70 lakh from more than 1,700 persons through 'ourdemocracy' platform and used that money for personal use.

Earlier, Gokhale was arrested by the Cyber Crime Branch on December 6 for allegedly spreading fake news regarding the cost incurred on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Morbi town following a bridge collapse incident.

On December 1, Gokhale shared a news clipping about information purportedly obtained through RTI which claimed PM Modi's visit to Morbi cost Rs 30 crore.

After Gokhale secured bail from an Ahmedabad court in the fake news case, he was arrested on December 8 by the Morbi police for the same offence registered there.

He was granted bail the next day.

He was arrested by the Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch from Delhi on December 30 in the crowdfunding case.

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