The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stamp can of worms

Mumbai, Nov. 27: Ranjit Singh Sharma, the shunted Mumbai police chief, dropped a bombshell in court today alleging that “19 politicians, some of them ministers”, were named in a diary confiscated from stamp paper scam mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi.

Sharma’s counsel told Bombay High Court that the state government had taken no action against the politicians and other police officers whose names figured alongside the former commissioner’s in the diary.

“Their identities are still under wraps,’’ V.R. Manohar said as he appealed for the case to be handed over to the CBI.

The counsel said that a section within the government was “victimising’’ Sharma.

But the high court rejected the demand for a CBI inquiry, which the Centre has aggressively pushed for, and reposed faith in the special investigation team probing the Rs 39,000-crore stamp paper scam. It asked the team to continue the inquiry “for now” but added that it should cooperate with the CBI, handling the probe in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat.

The damning diary allegations came as the state government drew up plans to chargesheet Sharma, indicted by the investigation team for shielding Telgi, which would make him the first officer in the department to face such punishment.

Before the Sharma shock had sunk in, another was felt. In the course of his arguments, advocate-general Ghoolam Vahanvati said the investigation team had with it secretly-recorded tapes that could implicate “prominent persons” hand in glove with Telgi.

The high court had hinted earlier that it could allow the investigation team’s report on Sharma to be made public.

Giving voice to what has long been whispered here, Vahanvati said the “prominent persons” figured in conversations Telgi had with politicians and police officers while lodged in Bangalore Central Jail.

Vahanvati asked for the probe to remain classified for now and said that of the 1,300 conversations that were recorded — many of them by Telgi — the contents of around 720 were known.

“This (the plea for secrecy) is because the probe is yet to be completed,” he said.

The high court had earlier directed chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to table an action taken report on Sharma today. The former police commissioner was found guilty by the investigation team on nine counts of omission and commission.

Briefing the court on the action taken, Vahanvati said Sharma — now posted as the chief vigilance officer in the State Road Transport Corporation — would be chargesheeted and a departmental inquiry had been ordered.

The government has stalled Sharma’s promotion to the post of director-general, transferring him twice within the space of a fortnight. He was forced to go on leave days before his retirement on November 30.

The government woke up after the high court in September ordered the constitution of an independent probe team.

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