A sessions court Friday rejected the plea of an accused who was seeking discharge in the car import case in which actress Sushmita Sen was allegedly cheated. The offence dates to 2005, when the accused had allegedly sold Sen an old imported vehicle as new, and forged documents to evade customs duty.
Jang Bahadur Gujral, 71, filed an appeal before the sessions court against the metropolitan magistrate’s order in 2017, which had rejected his discharge application. Gujral claimed there was no incriminating evidence against him to frame charges. The prosecution, however, said Gujral’s role was in transferring an allegedly forged passport, which was used for importing the vehicle from Dubai to India.
According to the prosecution, in 2005, Sen had entered into an agreement with Haren Choksi, a dealer of imported cars, to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser from Dubai.
A forged passport was allegedly used to obtain the vehicle under the ‘Motor Car Transfer of Residency Facility’ to denote transfer of residence as the reason for the import. The vehicle was transferred to the Chennai port from Dubai on these forged documents, the prosecution told the court. Further, it was submitted that the vehicle was manufactured in the year 1998, but was shown to have been a 2004 model. The vehicle was, thereafter, brought to Mumbai and registered at the Regional Transport Office by presenting further forged documents, the prosecution told the court. It claimed that the accused pretended that the vehicle was procured by legal means, and cheated Sen.
The prosecution alleged that by fabricating documents and changing the model and chassis number of the car, the accused evaded paying over Rs 40 lakh to the government in octroi and customs duty. The charges against the accused include cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.
“From the material presented by police, it can be inferred that this herculean task was not possible without pre-planning, experience and sufficient expertise in the relevant field. The contention of the applicant that he merely handed over the passport and nothing else is destitute of meaning at this stage. The offence has been accomplished by preparing a forged passport,” Additional Sessions Judge G O Agarwal observed. The court further said the accused was part of the conspiracy, and that there were sufficient grounds for framing charges against him. The court observed that there was no error in the order of the lower court which rejected his discharge application.