The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stamp scandal goes national
- SC order covers all states and Centre

Dec. 2: The stamp paper scanner has gone national, covering the entire country.

All states, Union territories and the Centre will come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court in the scam whose size is growing by the day and has touched Rs 39,000 crore at last count.

The court today asked a petitioner to make all of them respondents in a public interest litigation that seeks a CBI inquiry into the racket under the court’s supervision.

Chief Justice V.. Khare and Justices Ashok Bhan and A.R. Lakshmanan gave two weeks to the petitioner, Ajay Aggarwal, a former standing counsel of the Uttar Pradesh government, to amend his petition and make the states and Union territories respondents.

The political overtones in the scandal also came under glare today. R.S. Sharma, the former Mumbai police commissioner arrested yesterday, would be put through a lie-detector test and narco analysis to find out whether politicians are involved as the fallen officer’s lawyer had claimed last week.

“We want to probe whether Sharma was under political pressure to give patronage to the (mastermind Abdul Karim) Telgi syndicate while probing the scam and, if yes, who were the politicians involved,” prosecutor Raja Thackre told a Pune court which sent Sharma to police custody till December 9.

Sharma himself added fuel to the fire lit by his lawyer’s claim that Telgi’s diary had mentioned 19 politicians and policemen.

“Those responsible for helping the Telgi syndicate were left out and I have been pinned down in this case,” Sharma said in the packed courtroom.

The Centre, too, stepped in. Finance minister Jaswant Singh said the government would move the Supreme Court to seek guidance on whether the CBI should probe the scam, which today claimed one more top Mumbai police officer. Assistant commissioner R.B. Yenam, of the police commissionerate in Navi Mumbai, was arrested by his department for his alleged role in the scandal. He will be produced in court tomorrow.

In the petition before the Supreme Court, Aggarwal had named the CBI, the Centre and the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra as respondents. According to him, a CBI inquiry was needed as the Telgi scam involved several politicians and ministers and because the two states were not allowing the bureau to probe the matter and were continuing investigations with their own police departments.

The apex court tagged another petition by one Mukesh Manubhai Vashi with Aggarwal’s PIL. Vashi had sought transfer of all Telgi-related cases pending before various high courts to the apex court.

Aggarwal, a practising lawyer in the Supreme Court, alleged that the “swindler’s story” involved “almost all the states” of the country and was not restricted to a few states. “This scam is the biggest ever in India… and this is a case where national security is at stake,” he contended.

“Thousands of persons across all the states of India have been involved in the racket” and several “police officials, including senior police officers of the rank of commissioner of police, were found to be involved”, the petition said.


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