Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday refused outright to believe the findings of the police department that the illegal import of 662 motorbike spare parts was an “irregularity”. Senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the PIL initiated from a news report, told the court, “This is not carelessness or irregularity. This is a conspiracy to cheat.”
The court was earlier informed that only 55 of the 662 motorbikes had been traced so far. A language newspaper had, in July last year, exposed the scam behind the import of motorbike spare parts and their assembling and illegal sale in India. Converting the press report into a suo motu PIL, the court had earlier directed the suspension of three RTO officers - two from Andheri and one from Pen in Raigad.
Chinoy said the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the police had recorded statements of 108 people, and found 662 high-end motorbikes had been registered by RTO officers without even seeing one. “This cannot be investigated in such a cavalier manner. This is a criminal fraud,” Chinoy said.
“Vehicles are registered on forged documents. How can he (investigating officer) conclude it as an irregularity? It cannot go on in this manner,” Justice FI Rebello said. The court in its order stated that its attention was drawn to the affidavits of the investigating officer and the transport and excise commissioner which stated that an absconding accused in the case had made 50 monetary transactions with RTO officials to register motorbikes.
There were 32 bills for spare parts but sale certificates were not disclosed. “On the face of the documentary evidence, there is an offence,” justice Rebello said. The court’s order also stated, “We are not satisfied that these are irregularities,” and sought an affidavit pertaining to further investigation.
The DRI, in its report submitted to the court last year, had stated that 90% of the documents used in these transactions were forged.