A retired judge of the Bombay High Court has been booked for cheating and forgery by the Mumbai Police for allegedly siphoning Rs 2.29 crore from the bank account of his deceased older brother. No arrest has been made as the investigation is at a preliminary stage, the police said.
A case of cheating, forgery, criminal intimidation using anonymous communication and criminal conspiracy was filed by the HSBC Bank at the Azad Maidan police station on September 8 against retired Justice Michael Saldanha, his bother Mark Saldanha, Cuffe Parade residents Quraish Morbiwala, Rathna Lobo, and Jagdambaprasad Paswan, who was a domestic staff member of the deceased.
According to senior police officers, account-holder Patrick Saldanha, who was in charge of finance and accounts of a large corporate group, died of a heart attack on February 18 at the age of 81. Soon after his death, the bank has complained, his brothers, Michael and Mark, nominees to his account, falsely represented to the bank that he was alive, the police said.
“They prepared a fake power of attorney and issued 34 delivery instruction slips with forged signatures of the deceased to transfer Rs 2.29 crore into their own bank accounts,” an official said.
The alleged fraud, the police said, took place between February and August this year.
After receiving documents in which the accused had allegedly used threatening language, the bank filed a criminal complaint with the police on September 8, realising that it had been cheated.
Justice Saldanha lives in Bengaluru, as does Mark, who is also retired. When contacted, the retired judge said he was unaware of the criminal complaint. “Why should we do this? I have been a lawyer and judge for many years. It is quite shocking to me. I don’t know what the bank’s grievance is. Nobody has contacted me,” he said.
Justice Saldanha served as a judge at the Bombay High Court between 1990 and 1994 and was later transferred to the Karnataka High Court, where he served until his retirement in 2004. After retiring, he had headed the Saldanha Commission that investigated the attacks on Christians in Karnataka in 2008. In his 2011 report, he had concluded that the attacks were pre-planned and sponsored by the BJP-led state government.