Bloemfontein - The Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court has granted Varun Gupta permission to travel to India for a religious ceremony.
Magistrate Jan Greyvenstein said in his judgment delivered Friday that Varun can leave the country on the May 11 and return to South Africa no later than May 27.
"I hereby order that the applicant be allowed to travel," said Greyvenstein at the end of his detailed judgment.
Varun is facing criminal charges relating to the Vrede Integrated Dairy Project where millions of rands meant to benefit emerging black farmers in the Free State were allegedly misappropriated.
Varun, a nephew to the Gupta brothers, approached the court last week seeking a relaxation to his bail conditions so that he could travel to India and the Himalayas.
This was after the investigating officer objected to his request to travel abroad saying he had not met part of his bail conditions which required him to give notice of his travel plans at least six weeks in advance.
The magistrate however said that while Varun had not complied with one of his bail conditions in terms of the notice period, it was only fair to allow him to travel as the State has not come up with charges against him.
“The state has done all investigations… and there is no new evidence against the applicant… I'm of the opinion that the state has considered everything necessary,” he said.
Greyvenstein briefly touched on the State case against Varun saying he was not likely to abscond as the State does not seem to have a strong against him.
"The State does not have a strong case against the applicant. Had anyone mentioned prima facie case (during arguments) it would have been different. There are no travel restrictions to specific countries like India or Dubai in the bail conditions," he suggested.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) which initially opposed the application said it welcomed the judgment and trusts it was done in the interest of justice.
However, the NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku expressed reservations at the magistrate’s suggestion that the State didn’t have strong case against Varun as that wasn’t dealt with in detail during the application for the relaxation of bail conditions.
“With all due respect, I feel the magistrate erred because no evidence was led in court. The State did not call any witnesses to testify in court during this application,” he told reporters outside court.