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INS Vikrant Scam: Bombay High Court Grants Interim Relief to Neil Somaiya

The Trombay Police had filed a case on 6 April against the father-son duo.

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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 20 April, granted anticipatory bail to Neil K Somaiya, son of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kirit Somaiya, till 28 April in connection with alleged siphoning of funds amounting to Rs 57 crore through "crowd-funding'" to save the decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

"In the event of arrest, Neil Somaiya be released on bail after furnishing surety of Rs 50,000. His presence is required on four days before the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police," a single-judge bench led by Justice Anuja Prabhudessai stated, as per The Indian Express.

The court also said that it would hear pleas regarding anticipatory bail for the duo on 28 April and ordered Neil to appear before the Mumbai police for questioning from 25-28 April.

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The Trombay Police had filed a case on 6 April against the father-son duo among others following a complaint lodged by a retired officer of the Indian Army named Baban B Bhosale, who had alleged siphoning of funds by the Somaiyas in the name of a donation drive to save INS Vikrant from being scrapped.

Appearing for the Mumbai police, senior advocate Shirish Gupte said that they were interrogating the father (Kirit) in connection with the case and wanted to interrogate his son as well. "There is misappropriation of a huge amount. That case of Kirit Somaiya is kept on April 28, this (Neil) too can be kept then," Gupte said.

Allegations Based on Media Reports, No Solid Proof Regarding Exact Figure: Court

The High Court had also granted similar interim relief to Kirit last week, saying that the allegations levied on the two were majorly based on media reports.

It further said that no material was found to prove that the exact figure of Rs 57 crore was misappropriated by them, as claimed by the complainant, and that the allegations against them were made as per media reports alone.

"It is also to be noted that the complaint had been lodged in 2022 for money allegedly collected in 2013," the bench noted.
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The Complaint

Bhosale had stated in his complaint that he had contributed Rs 2,000 to save the decommissioned aircraft carrier in 2013 as part of a donation drive started by Somaiya, but found out in 2014 that the carrier had been scrapped and auctioned for Rs 60 crore.

He also alleged that Somaiya had written a letter to the Governor in 2013, as per a tweet, noting the financial contributions locals were willing to make to save the carrier.

However, the retired officer claimed that the Governor's office said that no money had been received for the said purpose from 2013-14, The Indian Express reported.

Bhosale also said that donation boxes had been set up in different places across the city to collect money to save the aircraft carrier.

(With inputs The Indian Express.)

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