The special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court in Pune on Wednesday discharged former Mumbai police commissioner Ranjit Singh Sharma and former deputy commissioner of police Pradip Sawant of the Mumbai Crime Branch in the multi-crore fake stamps and stamp papers case for lack of evidence.
Special Judge Chitra Bhedi also discharged suspended police inspector Vasishtha Andhale in the five-year-old case.
In another development, alleged scam kingpin Abdul Karim told the court he would plead guilty. Since Tuesday, 43 accused have pleaded guilty. Sharma and Sawant had been charged with criminal misconduct and patronising Telgi’s syndicate. The Special Investigation Team arrested Sharma and Sawant on December 1, 2003, a day after he retired as police commissioner, and Sawant on January 7, 2004.
Both the SIT and CBI chargesheets mentioned that Mumbai police commissioner Sharma was told that the SIT had found Telgi staying “lavishly” at his Colaba flat with the connivance of some Crime Branch officers, instead of being in lock-up on January 9, 2003. This was communicated to Sawant thrice, the chargesheet said. “But both did not do anything about it,” a former SIT officer said.
Also, Telgi was not mentioned as an accused when the Crime Branch seized fake stamps worth Rs 850 crore at his instance from a Bhiwandi godown. Instead, his associate Shabbir, who gave a statement against Telgi was made accused. The CBI is likely to challenge the MCOCA court order in the Bombay High Court.