The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted interim protection against arrest to Bharatiya Janata Party ex-MP Kirit Somaiya, accused of allegedly siphoning off Rs 57 crore collected in the name of saving the Indian Navy's defunct aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant.
The court directed that in case of arrest, Somaiya should be released on a personal bond of Rs 50,000.
The development came two days after the Sessions Court rejected his plea for relief and a day after his son and co-accused Neil K. Somaiya's anticipatory bail plea was also rejected by the same court.
A case has been registered against the father-son duo for allegedly collecting Rs 57 crore for INS Vikrant through crowd-funding in 2013-2014.
Somaiya had said then that the amount collected would be handed over to the Maharashtra Raj Bhavan, but an RTI reply last month made the shocking revelation that the money was not received by the Governor's office.
The prosecution informed the court that since the money was collected using the name of the Indian warship, they needed to probe how it was used.
They pointed out that Somaiya had tweeted then about the Rs 140-crore collection and expressed apprehensions of possible tampering with the investigations or pressuring the complainant as he (Somaiya) is a former elected public representative.
Soon after the order, Somaiya expressed gratitude to the court for the interim relief and claimed that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government has been exposed as it has not produced any evidence about the Rs 57-crore scam.