Today's Paper

CBI to probe stamp paper scam in Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI, MARCH 3. The Tamil Nadu Government today decided to hand over the fake stamp paper cases, now being handled by the CB-CID, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The decision was communicated to a Division Bench of the Madras High Court hearing a public interest litigation petition seeking to transfer the investigation, on the ground that two senior CB-CID officials - Amit Varma, Inspector-General, and Mohammad Ali, Deputy Inspector-General - were going slow on the probe and that they let go three key suspects after receiving an illegal gratification. The allegation was that they had allowed the suspects, including one Nizamuddin, to take away fake stamp papers with a face value worth crores in 2002.

The Bench comprising Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla posted the matter for Thursday after the Advocate-General, N.R. Chandran, said he would make a brief submission on the genuineness of the petition. K. Chandru, senior counsel for the petitioner, citing that the main prayer was for transferring the probe to the CBI, said he would withdraw the petition in the wake of the Government's latest decision.

3 counter-affidavits

Earlier, the Government filed three separate counter-affidavits - by the Home Secretary, Mr. Amit Varma and Mr. Mohammad Ali - denying the petitioner's allegations.

The Home Secretary said: ``The State Government, in deference to the Supreme Court order, has decided to entrust the cases to the CBI in view of inter-State ramifications.'' Mr. Amit Varma submitted that the Director-General of Police had ``already sent a communication to the CBI to that effect.''

The counters also said the plea for a direction to the CBI to take over investigation was not maintainable as the Supreme Court was already seized of the matter.

`Letter forged'

Identically, they submitted that a letter, allegedly written by the then Superintendent of Police, CB-CID, Sandeep Rai Rathore, to the Additional Director-General of Police, never existed. ``The alleged document is rank forgery and there exists no such letter,'' they said. ``The petitioner is, therefore, liable to be prosecuted for filing a forged document before the court.''

Seeking to dismiss the entire averments in the petition as ``mischievous, unsubstantiated and tainted with mala fide,'' the counter-affidavits said Mr. Nizamuddin was arrested by the CB-CID twice for circulating fake stamp papers in Tamil Nadu. However, he was not kept in illegal custody, no third degree methods were used during interrogation and no harassment techniques adopted either to obtain a ransom or get any information on his illegal trade. They also specifically denied an allegation that the two CB-CID officials received an illegal gratification from Mr. Nizamuddin to return the fake stamps.

Narrating the steps taken to contain the illegal stamp racket, the counters said six suspects were rounded up and incriminating documents and materials seized and sent for expert opinion.

Because of a timely CB-CID alert in March 2002, the Life Insurance Corporation unearthed fake unused insurance stamps with a face value of Rs. 1.71 lakhs, thereby preventing further circulation, the counters said. ``It is preposterous to allege that it is unlikely that any further investigation by the CB-CID will lead to any fruitful results.''

In their counters, Mr. Amit Varma and Mr. Mohammad Ali said certain averments in the PIL were highly defamatory, and they would proceed against the petitioner before an appropriate forum.