A sessions court here today issued an arrest warrant against former Gujarat BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya in a bitcoin extortion case, in which several police officials have been taken into custody so far. The case pertains to alleged extortion of the virtual currency worth crores from a Surat-based builder. Additional sessions judge P J Tamakuwala allowed the state CID-Crime’s plea for issuance of an arrest warrant under Section 70 of the CrPC. The CID-Crime had issued two summonses against the ex-MLA directing him to appear before it under section 160 of CrPC, but the latter didn’t oblige. The CID-Crime plea had said that Kotadiya has been evading arrest.
In its application, moved on May 14, the CID told the court that the former Dhari MLA need to be arrested as he allegedly played a significant role in the crime. Several police officials, including Amreli district superintendent of police Jagdish Patel and an inspector of the local crime branch, were arrested in the case. “Investigations clearly show that Nalin Kotadiya’s name has emerged in the said offences and (he) has played a vital role and was part of a conspiracy and has also received monitory gain,” judge Tamakuwala stated in his order issuing the arrest warrant.
“There are evidence to substantiate the allegation that Nalin Kotadiya is an accused of a non-bailable offence and is evading arrest. There is sufficient material on record satisfying about the involvement of Kotadiya in the stated non-bailable offences,” the judge noted. The CID told the court that Kotadiya has been untraceable and could not be found by police teams that had visited his residence as well as a place in Amreli district where he was believed to be hiding. Though Kotadiya sent a fax on May 7 stating that he would appear before the investigators on May 12, he did not oblige, the CID told the court. “We have concrete evidence against Kotadiya.
He is a highly influential person with a political background. He is not cooperating in the investigation and is hiding which is delaying the investigation. “With a warrant under section 70 of CrPC, CID (Crime) can inform the Gujarat Police and other agencies, and take help of police and investigating agencies from outside the state to find and arrest him,” it said.
An FIR was registered against the accused in the case under various sections of the IPC. The case relates to a complaint filed with the CID (Crime) three months back by builder Shailesh Bhatt. Bhatt had alleged that Amreli policemen had kidnapped him, and his business partner Kirit Paladia, from Gandhinagar on February 9 and extorted bitcoins, which was in the possession of Paladia. Bhatt had alleged that Kotadia was also involved in this conspiracy of extorting bitcoins worth over Rs 9 crore. Bitcoin is a type of digital money that is issued and normally controlled by its developers and used and accepted among the members of the virtual community. The Centre has said it does not recognise bitcoin or any other crypto-currency as legal tender in India.