Rajasthan High Court Suspects That 101 Signatures On Vakalatnama May Have Been Forged

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Case Title: Ranjeet Singh Chouhan and Ors vs State Of Rajasthan 

The single bench of Justice Dinesh Mehta of Rajasthan High Court issued a directive on Tuesday for its Registrar (Judicial) to initiate an investigation aimed at determining the authenticity of the signatures of 101 litigants on a vakalatnama, with a focus on uncovering any potential forgery.

The bench raised suspicions of forgery upon observing that the 101 litigants, dispersed across different regions of the country, had apparently convened in a single location to endorse identical vakalatnamas (documents empowering a lawyer to act on behalf of a litigant in court).

The bench asked “How these 101 persons scattered in different parts of the State/Country have converged in the office of learned counsel for the petitioners and have signed on printout of one list and authorized petitioner No.1 to file and swear affidavit, is a question to be probed”.

The Court additionally highlighted similarities in the handwriting of signatures associated with various litigants.

“A cursory look at the Vakalatnama filed with the writ petition shows that most of the signatures have been inscribed in seemingly similar handwriting, with the same pen and hand,” 

The Court firmly denied the petitioners’ lawyer, advocate Surendra Singh Choudhary, the request to withdraw the petition, especially when the judge indicated a leaning towards initiating an investigation into the alleged forgery.

“This practice has become the new normal where joint petitions are being filed with one Vakalatnama while appending the forged signatures of petitioners,” 

The Court was hearing a combined writ petition by retired Rajasthan government employees regarding a service dispute. After scrutinizing the Vakalatnama, the Court was puzzled by the submission of this joint petition by 101 litigants from various regions of the country.

The bench determined that an investigation was necessary to ascertain whether the litigants had personally signed the vakalatnama or if their signatures were forged.

While directing the registrar, the bench said “The Registrar (Judicial) is directed to initiate an enquiry into the matter by calling all the petitioners and ascertain as to whether the signatures on the Vakalatnama have been inscribed by the petitioners themselves,”

The Registrar was also directed to collect the signatures of all petitioners on a distinct sheet, without revealing the signatures on the Vakalatnama attached to the writ petition.

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