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Video-trial call in Telgi case

New Delhi, Nov. 16: The CBI has said in a status report filed before the Supreme Court today that 76 front companies belonging to Abdul Karim Telgi's crime network have been identified nationwide.

These companies are printing and circulating fake stamp papers through 155 outlets.

'During interrogation, Telgi has confessed to having acquired more than Rs 12 crore worth of immovable properties generated out of the proceeds of the crime,' the CBI. 'In the 119 bank accounts, credit inflow of Rs. 62 crore has so far been established.'

Additional solicitor-general A. Saran told a division bench of Justices N. Santosh Hegde and S.B. Sinha that 578 accused have been chargesheeted till now. He said they should be cross-examined through video conferencing as 'moving the accused from one state to another' was difficult.

Saran said the video conferencing would cost Rs 40-50 lakh. The bench then issued notices to Maharashtra and Karnataka asking them why video conferencing should not be done.

The court issued a separate notice to the central department of personnel and training to not shift CBI officials deputed for the investigations till the probe in the multi-crore stamp paper scam is completed and all accused chargesheeted.

Only a synopsis of the voluminous status report was made available to the public. 'Only a synopsis could be made public as the report in its entirety gives vivid details of interrogation of various public servants, politicians and other details which could not be disclosed,' said the additional solicitor-general.

The report said 'systematic faults and loopholes in the administrative procedures have been identified during the investigations into the scam, involving Rs 30,000 crore'.

'Dubious roles and conduct of a large number of public servants and other persons in public life are being established through the investigations conducted by CBI. It is being firmly indicated in a number of instances that the accused public servants had actively aided and abetted the organised crime syndicate of Telgi by way of obtaining pecuniary benefits', the report added.

Saran told the court that the National Informatics Centre has agreed to provide video conferencing facilities to the witnesses and the accused.

The case has been brought to the Supreme Court as a public interest litigation by advocate Ajay Agrawal. An investigation into 48 stamp scam cases has led to the identification of 76 front companies; a probe is still on.

Telgi has been charged in seven cases and 11 public servants of 'various ranks' have been chargesheeted till now, the status report said.

'A number of important henchmen of Telgi, including Samal Jamedar Badruddin, Vazir Ahmad Saliq, Ram Ratan Soni, Mohamad Abdul Hagiz, Abdul Rayees Qadri, Fatarek Abdul Bari, P.G.Pradip Kumar and Syed Mohiuddin have been chargesheeted in places like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi', the report added.

The CBI said the stamp scam was not restricted to the 'organised network of Abdul Karim Telgi alone', adding that 'one chargesheeted has been filed in respect of a non-Telgi gang'.

'Fifteen absconders have been arrested so far, including a number of such old associates of Telgi, who could never be arrested earlier by any other agency', the report said.

The court has given Karnataka and Maharashtra two weeks to respond.

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