After nearly two months in jail, former state home minister and former chairman of Dudhsagar Dairy, Vipul Chaudhary, who was arrested by the Gujarat Police Crime Investigation Department (CID) on December 12 for his alleged involvement in a bonus scam of Rs 14.80 crore, was granted regular bail by the Gujarat High Court.
In the February 9 order made public on Thursday, the court of Justice AY Kogje took into account the delay of more than a year in registering the offence. The court also observed that “prima facie, amount of Rs 22,50,26,628 has not been siphoned off and pocketed by the applicant (Chaudhary) nor there appears to be a case that the applicant has misappropriated this amount for his personal use or for family members”.
Chaudhary was represented by senior advocate Nirupam Nanavaty along with advocates Hriday Buch and RJ Goswami.
The court directed Chaudhary’s release from judicial custody on a personal surety of Rs 10 lakh. Chaudhary has also been directed to deposit an amount of Rs 7.96 crore with the Milk Producers’ Union, which “shall put this amount in a separate earmarked Fixed Deposit, which will be subject to ultimate outcome of the offence registered”.
Chaudhary has to pay Rs 2 crore “within two weeks of his release” and the remaining amount of Rs 5.96 crore in two bi-monthly installments, thereby clearing the amount on or before June 15 of this year.
“An undertaking to this effect shall also be filed before this court within a period of one week of release,” the court directed.
According to the prosecution, in a meeting of committee members of Dudhsagar Dairy in 2019, it was declared that the employees would receive bonus at the rate of 18% (approximately) as against usual bonus at the rate of 8.33%. It was also submitted by the prosecution that investigation had revealed that the amount first travelled in the names of the employees of the dairy and thereafter, select 30 employees.
Chaudhary was charged with offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and was arrested days before the election of Dudhsagar Dairy.