The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scam finger at police chief
- Court urges action, commissioner says he’s innocent

Mumbai, Nov. 12: Mumbai police commissioner Ranjit Singh Sharma has been accused of “nine counts of omission and commission” in the investigation report on his role in the Rs 3,000-crore fake stamp paper scam, sources said.

Sharma said: “I am innocent.”

The special investigating team probing the scam submitted its report to Bombay High Court on the appointed date today, but its findings were kept under wraps as Maharashtra advocate-general Ghoolam Vahanvati cited “utmost sensitivity”. Seven other officers were named as “culpable” in the report marked “sensitive information”.

“In the fitness of things”, the court asked for the report to be handed over to chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, urging action against the police commissioner, if any, by November 27 — three days before Sharma’s retirement.

A distraught Shinde said: “The image of the state government has been shattered. The police force has to be revamped. ”

There are indications Sharma may be one of those who might be touched by the revamp.

Eleven police officers, including additional commissioner (intelligence) Sreedhar Vagal, have been arrested so far for helping Telgi make fake stamps and sell them in nine states.

Sharma was the Pune commissioner of police when the scam surfaced two years ago. He has been accused by S.M. Mushrif, who was additional commissioner then, of retaining tainted officer M.C. Mulani in the probe team. Mulani, an assistant commissioner now suspended, later went to Bangalore — on Sharma’s orders — and spoke to Telgi while he was in a jail there.

Mulani is alleged to have asked Telgi for a bribe of Rs 3 crore for diluting the police case.

Advocate Majeed Memon, who is fighting the case against Sharma on behalf of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, said: “The very fact that the high court judges advised the investigating team to urgently forward the report to the chief minister for immediate action suggests Sharma’s not out of the blues.”

He added that on September 3, 2002, the home secretary of Karnataka had informed the Maharashtra government about Mulani speaking to Telgi and taking Rs 15 lakh (of the Rs 3 crore he allegedly demanded).

“Yet, three days later, Sharma retained Mulani in the investigation team,” Memom said.

A picture of confidence, Sharma said he was certain he would come out clean. A smiling Sharma added: “I am proud that the scam was busted while I was the police commissioner in Pune. I have given my side of the story and will do it again before the chief minister. This has been a trial by the media for me.”

The Mumbai police chief also hit out at his detractors, especially some former police chiefs who had said he should proceed on leave. “I will not advise anything after my retirement,” he said.

Chief justice C.K. Thakker and justice Abhay Oka said the court could consider giving copies of the report to the respondents on November 27, thus making it public. The court ordered the investigators to go deeper into the case and consider the arrest of other tainted officers, especially Mulani.

Aware that the entire state is looking to the investigators to bring the guilty to book, the court added a word of encouragement. “The wings of the special investigating team are not clipped by the high court. The investigating agency can interrogate anyone, howsoever high he may be.”

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