Land sharks play fraud on court, judge orders a probe
Forged property documents were filed in a subordinate court and cases settled keeping the original land owner in the dark
Dec 06, 2014
Source : The Times of India


CHENNAI: Taking exception to the way in which forged property documents were filed in a subordinate court and cases settled keeping the original land owner in the dark about the litigation, the Madras high court has asked the Tiruvannamalai police to register a case and trace the culprits who had played a fraud on the court.

Justice S Nagamuthu, passing orders on a petition filed by Vanitha Jayapaul on Wednesday, said: "The offence is heinous. People of this country repose enormous faith in the judiciary. Any document bearing the seal of the court is taken as a true document and the contents as gospel truth. It is shocking that the court has been taken for a ride."

The matter relates to two pieces of land purchased by Vanitha in Tiruvannamalai in 1995 and 1996. Before going to the US in 1999, she gave the documents to a friend, Bret Carlson. In September 2014, when she inquired about the lands, Carlson said he had been working with Hohm Sahaj Trust and left the papers there in 2002.

When Vanitha applied for encumbrance certificate, it became clear the properties had been sold to the trust by forging her signature. Later, a case for registering the property had been filed in a civil court, again forging her signature. Notices were not served on her, but were instead affixed at her property. The cases were then decided against her saying she remained ex parte.

When Justice Nagamuthu probed the matter further, the trust run by senior advocate Raaman Lal said they had purchased the lands without knowing the fraud behind it. He then offered to execute a deed surrendering the land to Vanitha. A junior lawyer, who represented Vanitha in the civil court without authorisation, too appeared in the court and said he did so after instructions from his senior.

Justice Nagamuthu asked police to register an FIR, without including the advocates as accused, and conduct a probe to track the real culprits behind the fraud. The property shall be entrusted with Vanitha, and the trust shall bear expenses relating to relinquishment proceedings, he said.

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