The Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court today fixed February 29 as the date to initiate criminal proceedings against five members of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) accused of forging signatures of at least eight industrialists in an extraordinary general board meeting in March 2009.
The five accused have been identified as former GCCI president Rupesh Shah, former Chamber vice-president Samir Patel, former secretary Ashish Guru, former senior deputy secretary general Bipin Patel and former deputy secretary Gita Joshi.
On Wednesday, three of the five appeared in person before the court while the two others were represented by their advocates. Finding a ‘prima-facie’ case of forgery and criminal conspiracy against them, the court had summoned the five in December last year.
The court order came in the wake of a complaint lodged by one Pravin Patel — on September 9, 2009 — who accused the five of forging signatures of at least eight industrialists, who are also members of GCCI, in the said meeting in which certain important changes related to the Constitution of GCCI were passed with majority.
According to Patel, a total of 168 members of GCCI were shown present in the meeting and 166 of them voted in favour of the changes to the Constitution of the Chamber. He has accused the five of forging signatures of the members who were not present in the meeting in order to pass the changes to the Constitution with an intention to get their cronies in the GCCI.
Following the complaint, the court had ordered an inquiry under the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code. During the inquiry, two of the eight persons whose signatures are alleged to have been forged — Paru Jaikrishna and Natu Patel — deposed before the court and testified that they were not present in that meeting and that the signatures shown in the records of GCCI on that day were not theirs.
Similarly, eight other industrialists filed affidavits before the court and said they were also not present in the meeting and that their signatures in the minutes book of GCCI were forged.