The Gujarat High Court recently dismissed the bail application filed by Saket Gokhale, the national spokesperson of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) who is booked in a case of misappropriating funds collected in an online campaign [Saket Gokhale vs State of Gujarat].
Single-judge Justice Samir Dave noted that there was prima facie case against Gokhale and thus denied him bail.
"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 welfare of the people was utilized by the applicant for his personal expenses," the judge noted in the order passed on January 23.
It appears that the prosecution has clearly established a prima facie case against the accused, the Court added while denying him bail
The Court said that as per the statements of witnesses, Gokhale not only received money not only from the wife of the complainant, but also from 1,767 persons. These amounts, the Court noted, were collected using social media and most transactions were 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.
As per the prosecution case, a complaint was lodged against Gokhale by a deputy secretary in the State government on December 28, 2022 alleging that his wife had paid some amount as a contribution to the crowd funding initiated by the TMC leader.
These funds were to be used for the welfare of the poor people but it was alleged that Gokhale misappropriated the funds for his personal expenses.
In his defence, Gokhale argued that he was only being targeted and is a victim of political vendetta. He claimed that he has been framed in this case as the government wants him to be in jail.
Notably, Gokhale was first arrested on December 6, last year for a news clipping of a RTI response he shared on Twitter stating that an amount of ₹30 crore was spent ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Morbi, where the century-old suspension bridge had collapsed in October. He was, however, granted bail on December 8 but as soon as he was released he was immediately arrested by the Cyber Cell of the Ahmedabad Police in the money laundering case.