The Mumbai crime branch arrested nine people, including three advocates, for selling forged stamp papers and seized as many as 15,500 such papers worth Rs7.1 lakh.
At least four teams of the crime branch raided the premises of the Andheri, Bandra and Esplanade courts in Mumbai along with the locations in the Satara-Sangli belt, officials said.
The arrested advocates were identified as Haridas Prajapati, Vivek Pandey, Ravindra Kumar Tiwari. Others include Rajbahadur Yadav, Sarnappa Mangalgi, Mohammad Shaikh, Vimalendu Dwivedi, Nagendra Tiwari, Sudhirkumar Baranwal, who are stamp vendors and staffers working under the advocates.
The incident came to light after a person lodged a complaint regarding the sale of old stamp papers. The suspects were under constant surveillance for almost four months before they were apprehended.
The accused were arrested by crime branch officials from the property cell including officers Vinayak Mer, Dinkar Bhosale, Dheeraj Koli, Nitin Patil, Lakshmikant Salunke and Deep Bane.
“The oldest seized stamp paper is 57 years old. We found out that the accused took original papers from the treasuries and sold them at premium rates. It is suspected that they sold fake stamp papers,” said Atulchandra Kullarni, joint commissioner of police, crime.
Officials also learnt that the notary stamps and signatures on these official documents were forged and several stamps have also been seized from the accused. Investigation revealed that these accused have sold such documents to the tune of several crores over a long period of time.
“Following the Telgi scam ,several security features like watermark, printed serial numbers were introduced for stamp papers. We will send the seized papers for further analysis to ascertain if they possess these safeguards,” added Kulkarni.
The officials added that the state-wide links of the arrested gang is being probed and have asked complainants to come forward to report such incidents. Identities of these persons will be kept anonymous.
A case under sections 258 (sale of counterfeit Government stamp), 259 (possession of counterfeit Government stamp), 260 (using as genuine a Government stamp known to be a counterfeit), 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 34 (acts of common intention) has been filed against the accused with the Nirmal Nagar police station. They have been remanded in police custody till March 10.