Deputy Commissioner of Police Pradeep Sawant of the Anti-Terrorism Squad and Senior Inspector of Police Vashishth Andhale have once again come under the scanner for their alleged role in abetting the multi-crore fake stamp paper scam accused Abdul Karim Telgi.
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday set aside the discharge granted by special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in Pune. The HC stayed its order for eight weeks to allow the officers to appeal in the Supreme Court.
While disposing of the CBI appeal against Sawant and Andhale’s discharge, Justice Ranjana Desai pulled up the police force and high-ranking officers who were in service during 2003-04 when the scam surfaced.
Observing that the case “has national ramifications” in which the main accused had pleaded guilty and was convicted, high court said: “There is a possibility that this scam had the blessings and assistance of some high-ranking police officers. Their involvement needs to be probed.”
The court remarked in its 80-page judgment: “In the ultimate analysis, I am of the opinion that the material collected by the prosecution, prima facie, indicates that Pradeep Sawant and Vashishth Andhale has knowingly facilitated the commission of an organized crime by their acts of commission and omission. It gives rise to a strong and grave suspicion leading the court that they have committed the offence.”
Sawant and Anddhale were arrested in 2004 for allegedly abusing their official position to help for the commission of organised crime through subordinate officers, Assistant Police Inspector Dilip Kamath and Inspector Dattatraye Dal. Later, they got bail.
On June 26, 2007, special MCOCA Judge Chitra Bhedi discharged them from their alleged involvement in the scam. “The special judge has failed to take into account several vital pieces of evidence collected by the prosecution, which prima facie indicate their involvement,” said Justice Desai.
Sawant, who was a senior officer, had conducted a perfunctory inquiry. “A senior officer of his (Sawant’s) standing was expected to probe into the matter further. Had he done so, he would have unearthed the crime. Instead, he chose to carry out a technical inquiry and gave a clean chit to Andhale,” said the judge.