The Mumbai police have registered a case of cheating against former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya and his son Neil Somaiya for alleged misappropriation of over Rs 57 crore (Rs 570 million) funds collected to save the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
The case against them was filed based on a complaint lodged by a 53-year-old former Indian Army soldier on Wednesday evening at the Trombay police station in suburban Mankhurd, north east Mumbai, a police officer said on Thursday.
Commissioned in 1961, the INS Vikrant, a Majestic-class aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, had played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade of East Pakistan during the 1971 War. It was decommissioned in 1997. In January 2014, the ship was sold through an online auction and scrapped in November that year.
The complainant alleged Kirit Somaiya had started a campaign to raise funds for the INS Vikrant. He said he had given donations to Somaiya for saving the ship and the BJP leader had collected more than Rs 57 crore for the purpose.
However, instead of depositing the amount with the Maharashtra governor's secretary's office, the complainant alleged Somaiya misappropriated the funds.
Shiv Sena leaders had met police officials along with the complainant on Wednesday to raise the issue.
Based on the complaint, a case under Indian Penal Code sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) was registered against Kirit Somaiya, his son Neil and others, the police officer said.
On Wednesday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had accused Kirit Somaiya of siphoning off Rs 57 crore collected from people as donations to save the INS Vikrant.
Rejecting the allegation, Somaiya had said if Raut has any evidence, he should hand it over to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.