A New Delhi court on Monday held gangster Chhota Rajan guilty of cheating the government by obtaining a forged Indian passport, crimes which entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Special Judge Virender Kumar Goyal also convicted three retired public servants -- Jayashree Dattatray Rahate, Deepak Natvarlal Shah and Lalitha Lakshmanan – for helping Rajan to obtain a fake passport by ‘entering into a criminal conspiracy’.
Moments after the verdict was announced and the court ordered the police to take them in immediate custody, the three public servants, who were present in the courtroom, broke down. The three of them were so far out on bail.
55-year old Rajan alias Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, who is currently in judicial custody and lodged in Tihar Jail in New Delhi, appeared before the court through video conference due to security reasons. The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on Tuesday.
All the four were convicted of the same offences for which the punishment ranges from seven years to life term.
They were convicted of cheating, using as genuine a forged document, forgery for the purpose of cheating, forgery of valuable security or will, cheating by impersonation and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and violating relevant provisions of the Passport Act.
The court noted in its order that Rajan had twice got passports issued in the name of Mohan Kumar on false and fabricated documents -- first from Regional Passport Office, Bengaluru and then from Consulate General of India, Sydney, Australia.
It said that signatures appearing in the application form for re-issue of passport given at RPO, Bangalore and on the passport issued by Consulate General of India, Sydney, Australia, on the basis of the same particulars, were the same and tallied with the specimen signatures of Rajan.
“In view of the above, it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that all the accused persons entered into a criminal conspiracy to do an illegal act by illegal means and in consequence of the same, accused Rajan applied for re-issue of passport at RPO, Bangalore with false particulars supported with the forged and fabricated documents and the accused public servants accepted and proceeded the said application and issued passport in the name of Mohan Kumar, i.e. Rajan,” the court said.
It said that Rajan ‘impersonated’ himself as Mohan Kumar with the help of ‘false particulars, address etc, supported with the false and fabricated documents and cheated the government of India by obtaining an Indian passport in his fake name of Mohan Kumar’.
“All accused had entered into a criminal conspiracy to do an illegal act by illegal means. Accused Rajan intentionally and knowingly furnished false information with false address and other particulars whereas in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy,” it said.
The court found that Rajan’s application for passport was accepted by Lakshmanan and processed by Rahate, where his date of birth was corrected as the old passport copy of was also forged and fabricated.
It noted that the passport was signed and issued by Shah, who without lawful authority, altered the date of birth in the application for re-issue of passport to allow the application in the false name, address and other particulars.
The court had on March 28 reserved its judgment in the case.
Lakshmanan had earlier approached the high court to transfer to Bengaluru her trial, but the petition was rejected on January 9 on the ground that a district court here could also hear the matter.
During pendency of the plea, the high court had ordered a stay on pronouncement of verdict in the case by trial court. However, the high court later rejected the plea.
Deported after being on the run for 27 years, Rajan, once a close aide of fugitive terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, was brought to India to face trial in over 70 cases of murder, extortion and drug smuggling in Delhi and Mumbai. He was deported to India after his arrest in Bali in October 2015.