MUMBAI: Abdul Karim Telgi, the prime accused in the multi-crore fake stamp-paper scam spread across several states, was acquitted along with all the others accused by a special CBI court in Nashik on Monday, over a year after his death. Telgi was accused of producing and selling counterfeit stamp papers worth crores. His modus operandi was allegedly to sell them to bulk buyers like banks, insurance agencies and government offices.
The son of a railway employee and a resident of Khanapur near Belgaum in Karnataka, Telgi purportedly started printing counterfeit stamp papers after he failed to earn enough as a travel agent. He had allegedly bought the old printing machines from the securities press at Nashik. The case in this regard was going on at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Nashik since 2003.
District judge P R Deshmukh, who had expedited the hearing in the case, had heard 49 witnesses over the past months. On Monday, he acquitted all the seven accused in the case citing a lack of evidence.Telgi’s ‘business’ went on for about a decade before he was arrested by the Karnataka police in 2001. A large network that he had built with several government officials, police officers and politicians was unearthed during the investigation. One of them was former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Chhagan Bhujbal, who allegedly tried to shield Telgi and scuttle investigations during his tenure as home minister before 2004.
Telgi was convicted in 2007 in the alleged scam worth Rs 32,000 crore and was slapped with a fine of Rs 202 crore. According to the charge sheet in the case, the racket allegedly operated in 18 states through 350 agents in 70 cities. Telgi had multiple cases against him in 11 states. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, which he was serving when he died in Bengaluru in 2017. Though charges against him were abated after his death, the others including officials of the Railway Protection Force and the parcel division of the railways, were acquitted on Monday.