The district court here has unearthed what appears to be a court-based racket that profited from submitting forged judicial stamp papers in lieu of actual payment of fee to the court to adjudicate on civil suits.
Principal Sessions Judge B. Sudheendra Kumar on Thursday ordered the State police to constitute a special team to investigate the suspected fraud.
On April 13, a sub-court officer told the judge that he had found that a lawyer had submitted two stamp papers of the same serial number as court fee in two different suits represented by him. The officer found the watermark, security thread, latent image (one that could be viewed only if the paper is held under light in a particular position), thickness, and micro-lettering on the suspect stamp papers slightly varied from the security features embedded in genuine ones.
The judge ordered the district treasury officer, who issues stamp papers to authorised vendors, and the stamp depot, which procures the documents from security presses, to report whether the papers were genuine. Both offices wrote back to him that the documents were forged ones.
Subsequently, he directed his court officers to secretly verify the authenticity of stamp papers submitted recently in the sub-court and the munsiff court here. Their investigation revealed that in the sub-court alone, Rs.5,20,300 worth of fake stamp papers had been submitted in various civil suits. In the munsiff court, the fraud visited on the judiciary was estimated at Rs.37,500.
An investigator said that this was “just the tip of the ice-berg.” The fraud had been committed mostly by legal advisers of certain new generation banks involved in litigations with their customers and a few lawyers who specialised in resolving private law disputes among individuals, business houses, and the State.
The investigators found that many litigants, who had submitted stamp papers in civil cases, had got full refund of the court fee money after they settled their disputes in adalats conducted by the Kerala Legal Services Authority. They said that some of the cases could have been fraudulently filed to get refund of court fee after submitting forged stamp papers in lieu of payment of actual money.
The judge sought the permission of the High Court and summoned City Police Commissioner T.J. Jose to his chamber and ordered immediate registration of a case. He chaired a meeting of other judicial officers wherein they discussed whether e-payment of court fee to the State treasury would help check such fraud in the future.
Keywords: Fake stamp paper scam