New Delhi: A CBI court here on Monday convicted underworld don Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan and others in a fake passport case.
It is the first case in which Rajan, facing nearly 85 cases, has been held guilty.
Besides Chhota Rajan, others convicted by Central Bureau of Investigation Special Judge Virender Kumar Goyal are then Passport Officers Jayashree Dattatray Rahate, Deepak Natvarlal Shah and Lalitha Lakshmanan.
The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on Tuesday.
The court directed the three accused to be taken into judicial custody till Tuesday.
Rajan, who was present in the court via videoconferencing, was held guilty of possessing the fake passport.
The court said the passport officials abused their position while issuing the passport to Rajan.
All four were also convicted for cheating, using as genuine a forged document, forgery for purpose of cheating, cheating by impersonation, and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Passport Act.
The court also convicted them for criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
"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," the court said while observing that the three former passport officials supported the false and forged copy of a ration card and other documents submitted by Chhota Rajan.
The court said no police verification was conducted to check the address provided by Chhota Rajan while applying for passport.
"In respect of fake documents, it has been mentioned in the Passport Manual 2001 that thorough scrutiny of the original documents at the time of accepting applications is of utmost importance and the staff should be sensitised about the same," the court said.
"... the Manual says that if the Passport Officer has any doubt about the information submitted by an applicant, they have the discretion to refuse the passport on police report."
On June 8, 2016, the court framed charges against Chhota Rajan as well as Rahate, Shah and Lakshmanan.
The CBI chargesheet alleged that Chhota Rajan got himself issued a fake passport in the name of Mohan Kumar from Bengaluru in 1998-99 in connivance with Rahate, Shah and Lakshmanan.
The court said Chhota Rajan submitted an application on December 10, 1998, at the Regional Passport Office in Bengaluru for reissuance of a passport he claimed to hold.
But the passport, which was expiring (F-004555), was in the name of Enayath Akmal Khan.
The CBI chargesheet said this claim of Mohan Kumar was accepted by Lakshmanan.
Rahate, who worked as Superintendent and Passport Granting Officer, abused his official position and corrected the date of birth as per the old passport from July 24, 1969 to July 24, 1959 and granted her approval for its issuance, the court observed.
Rajan is accused in nearly 85 cases, ranging from murder to extortion, smuggling and drug trafficking. He has cases pending against him in Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and those registered by the CBI.
The don was arrested in Indonesia in October 2015 and deported to India the next month.