M A I N   N E W S

Fake Stamp Paper Case
Telgi gets 13-yr RI, Rs 100-cr fine

Pune, June 28
Abdul Karim Telgi, the kingpin of the multi-crore fake stamp scam, was today sentenced to rigorous imprisonment (RI) for 13 years and fined over Rs 100 crore by a court here after he dramatically broke down while pleading guilty and seeking leniency.

Judge Chitra Bhedi of the special court pronounced the quantum of punishment in one of the main cases in the scam, hours after Telgi pleaded guilty and repented his actions. She said the court had taken "a lenient view" since Telgi "had volunteered to plead guilty" and because of his health condition. Telgi is HIV-positive.

The judge said the sentence could have been harsher if he had not pleaded guilty with 42 other convicts. She awarded varying jail terms to Telgi under various sections of the IPC and Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), the maximum being RI for 13 years, and fined him over Rs 100 crore.

All the sentences will run concurrently and the convicts are eligible for remission, the order said. The other convicts were given six-year prison terms and fined a maximum of Rs 5 lakh.

The order said if Telgi failed to pay the fines, he would have to undergo additional prison terms, with the maximum term being three years and three months.

The case for which Telgi was sentenced was filed by the Bundgarden police here and related to the seizure of fake government stamps and stamp papers from a car in 2002.

This is the harshest punishment given to Telgi in any of the fake stamp paper cases he has been convicted for so far in Maharashtra and Karnataka. The fine was also one of the highest-ever imposed by a court.

Wife pleads not gulity

Telgi's wife Shahida, who is also among the accused, did not plead guilty and claimed she was unaware of her husband's activities.

Shahida, who too is infected with HIV, said her days were numbered because of her status. At this juncture, both husband and wife came to tears.

After arguments by the prosecution and the defence on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to the 43 accused who pleaded guilty, the judge adjourned the court till the evening.

The case in the MCOCA court relates to the printing, circulation and sale of counterfeit government stamps and stamp papers by an organised crime syndicate headed by Telgi, who is now in judicial custody at the Yerwada Jail here. Of the 68 people chargesheeted, 42 have confessed to their role in the scam that came to light in mid-2002. PTI



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