Forged SPP Appointment Letter Case: Former HM Letter Support Anticipatory Bail For Advocate Shekhar Jagtap & Kishore Bhalerao

Forged SPP Appointment Letter Case: Former HM Letter Support Anticipatory Bail For Advocate Shekhar Jagtap & Kishore Bhalerao

Bhalerao, Jagtap and builder Shamsunder Agarwal were booked in a case registered with Colaba police for allegedly forging letters appointing Jagtap as special public prosecutor

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Sunday, April 28, 2024, 08:05 PM IST
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Mumbai: The letter given by the then home minister comes to the rescue of advocate Shekhar Jagtap and then deputy secretary law and order Kishor Bhalerao as the sessions court while granting them anticipatory bail has observed that the letter of Minister favors their case. The two have been booked for alleged controversy over appointment of Jagtap as special public prosecutor in the case against the complainant.

The then Home Minister vide his letter dated January 31, 2024 has affirmed that the disputed appointment orders were issued by the Kishore Bhalerao on his oral instructions. Hence, prima facie it appears that the appointment of the present applicant as SPP through the disputed letters/orders was with due authority. Thus, the said letter favors not only to Bhalerao but to Jagtap as well, the additional sessions judge DR. S. D. Tawshikar said in his detailed order released on Saturday.

Besides, the court has noted that Jagtap has not even received any remuneration for his appearance. Hence there is no loss to the government.

Legal Issues Surrounding Jagtap's Appointment As Special Public Prosecutor

Bhalerao, Jagtap and builder Shamsunder Agarwal were booked in a case registered with Colaba police for allegedly forging letters appointing Jagtap as special public prosecutor (SPP) in cases against builder Sanjay Punamiya.

As per the FIR, Jagtap acted as Agarwal’s private lawyer during the first remand proceeding of a Marine Drive police station extortion case. Punamiya was arrested in July 2021 in the Rs15 crore extortion case registered against Param Bir Singh and others at Marine Drive. Punamiya claimed that Jagtap was present before the court on July 22, 2021, to represent Agrawal as a private lawyer.

During the arguments it was informed to the court that Jagtap was appointed as the special PP by the state, not only for the Marine Drive case but also for another extortion case involving Agarwal and others at Juhu police station, with alleged connections to underworld figure Chhota Shakeel.

Court's Assessment Of Jagtap's Appointment And Allegations

In the FIR, Punamiya asserted that Jagtap’s unauthorized intervention led to prolonged incarceration, hindering his ability to secure bail and causing loss of reputation and business. Punamiya used the Right to Information (RTI) and requested information about the cases Jagtap was assigned to appear as a special public prosecutor, the FIR stated.

The court while granting anticipatory bail to Jagtap said, “It is not in dispute that the State has appointed present applicant as SPP, in the same case before the court of Magistrate. Admittedly, the applicant has represented the State before the trial Court. Said undisputed orders were signed by Bhalerao, Deputy secretory, Home department, Mantralaya, Mumbai. Therefore, prima facie, it appears that applicant had reason to believe that his appointment as SPP was in accordance with the due procedure of the Government Department performed regularly.” The court further said that the FIR is clear that as Jagtap opposed bail application of Punamiya he ha grudge against him.

Court's Justification For Granting Anticipatory Bail To Bhalerao

Further in the detailed order, of granting anticipatory bail to Bhalerao the court said, “No doubt that the allegations are serious and requires a thorough investigation, however, considering the dispute involved, and pendency of various criminal cases between the informant and the co accused Agarwal, I find that it for the inquiry/investigation about the files of Mantralaya, hardly it requires custodial interrogation of the applicant. Admittedly the Adv. Jagtap has received no remuneration for the work he did in the light of his appointment as SPP vide impugned appointment orders, therefore I, prima facie, find no force in the allegations of cheating and causing loss to the government.”

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