| Shops in front of the Patna civil court where people buy stamp papers. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Amit Kumar’s frantic search for a stamp paper for three hours near Patna civil court on Thursday proved futile.
The perspiring Patna City resident, walking towards Gandhi Maidan, told The Telegraph: “I scanned six shops for a Rs 1,000 stamp paper for my tenancy contract. The vendors told me to try my luck at Hajipur. But none would say the reason behind the disappearance of stamp papers.”
The police’s haul of fake stamp papers and stamps worth a whopping Rs 100 crore on Tuesday and Wednesday has surely had an impact in the city.
Land agreements, flat registration agreements, rent agreements, power of attorney and different kinds of registrations and affidavits are on hold right now.
Patna civil court, which was abuzz with activity till a couple of days back, wore a deserted look on Thursday. A typist sitting at a corner of the cramped office compound nearby said: “The sky is cloudy after it rained heavily last (Wednesday) evening. So many people have not turned up.”
The people, who usually stand on the approach road to the court from Gandhi Maidan and approach pedestrians with affidavits, could hardly be seen on Thursday.
“They are there but hidden. You can find them in tea stalls and small hotels. Following the recovery of stamp papers, another raid can happen anytime and no one wants to get caught. You tell me what you want,” said one of the touts to this correspondent.
Asked about stamp papers, he replied: “They would be rare for a few days at least though papers of smaller denomination would be easier to get.”
Another tout said: “I don’t have any stamp papers now. If you are looking for Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 stamp papers, you should forget them.” Prodded for a Rs 100 stamp paper, he said: “I just said I don’t have any stamp paper now.”
Another vendor said: “I have very few Rs 100 stamp papers only.” Asked about Rs 1,000 stamp paper, he said: “I don’t have them. You can paste court stamps worth Rs 900 on the Rs 100 denomination stamp paper.”
On an assuring note, a vendor said: “Come after a few days, they would be available. What can we do if we are not getting the same from the treasury office of the collectorate?”
As the correspondent stepped out of the court premises, a man in an advocate’s coat came forward. “Stamp papers of Rs 1,000 are available. I can get one for you. Don’t worry how I get it. But give me Rs 200 extra. If you agree, pay me Rs 1,200 and wait here. I will get it for you within minutes,” the man said.
A police officer privy to the investigation told The Telegraph: “We have busted a huge racket. The connivance between registered vendors and the collectorate cannot be denied. Probe is on. Licences of registered vendors would be checked.”
Rajesh Kumar, the treasury officer of the Patna collectorate, said there was a scarcity of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 stamp papers. “We have placed orders today (Thursday). They would be available soon,” he said.
“Figures at Patna city court suggest stamp papers worth Rs 1.2 lakh were sold on September 24. Sale of fake stamp papers on any given day exceeds that of authentic ones. Touts and vendors run the racket with precision. Of 48 registered vendors at Patna collectorate, there are chances of some being corrupt,” an official told The Telegraph.