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Reduce witnesses and accused in Telgi case, High court tells CBI

The judges said CBI should select a few key accused people and secure their conviction.

mumbai Updated: Mar 22, 2018 00:52 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
mumbai news,crime,telgi case
Abdul Karim Telgi masterminded a multi-crore fake stamp paper scam.(HT File)

The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the central bureau of investigation (CBI) to consider reducing the number of accused people and witnesses in the Bund Garden fake stamp paper case of 2002, involving Abdul Karim Telgi, which led to the seizure of fake imprints worth Rs2,200 crore.

“You cannot achieve anything by prosecuting each and every person that you come across during investigation,” the division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Praksh Naik told CBI counsel Raja Thakare.

“There will be no one to be sent behind bars if the case continues at this pace, as most of the accused have already become senior citizens,” the bench said.

The judges said CBI should select a few key accused people and secure their conviction.

“Ultimately, keeping prosecutions pending for decades does not augur well for the system as a whole and does not sub-serve any public interest,” they said.

Hearing an appeal filed by retired IPS officer Shridhar Vagal, an accused in the case, the bench was irked to note that the trial in the 2002 case had not progressed at all, although 16 years period has gone by. They said a sword of uncertainty cannot be allowed on the heads of accused persons, especially persons like Vagal having excellent record to his credit, for indefinite period in this fashion and suggested the CBI should consider reducing the number of accused persons to a manageable level.

The suggestion came after noticing that after examining about 185 (out of total 800) witnesses, the prosecution has not yet been able to pin-point the accusation levelled against Vagal, a national merit scholar student and a post-graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

As regards the huge number of witnesses proposed to be examined by the prosecution in the case, the judges commented: “There is no pride in saying that we have 800 witnesses lined up against the accused persons, if those witnesses are not brought to the court and the prosecution is not going to get an opportunity to examine them.”

The court suggested that the CBI should apply its mind and bring down the number of witnesses as well, saying after so many years not all witnesses will be able to recollect everything that they are supposed to testify before the trial court against the accused persons. “The prosecution must decide where to stop and take a final call,” said the bench in this regard.

Vagal has approached the high court challenging order of the trial court rejecting his discharge plea. His counsel, advocate Shekhar Jagtap, argued that no specific role has been attributed by the prosecution to the retired IPS officer and an omnibus allegation of abetting the scamsters has been levelled against him without any iota of evidence.

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 00:52 IST