The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted interim bail to Swapna Patker, who was arrested last month for allegedly obtaining a fake PhD degree in clinical psychology and using it to practice as a counselor at a city hospital.
A bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar directed Patker to surrender her passport before the jurisdictional magistrate and to deposit a personal bond of Rs 25,000 as well as a surety of the same amount to secure bail.
Patker, who was arrested on June 8 on charges of cheating and forgery among other offences, had approached HC seeking that the FIR registered against her by the Bandra police be quashed and that she be granted bail in the interim.
Patker had said through her counsel Abha Singh that the FIR had been registered as a “counter blast” after she made allegations of harassment against Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut as well as against police officers probing her complaint against Raut.
Singh had told HC that Patker had been charged under Indian Penal Code section 465 for forgery and under section 467 for having forged a document that qualified as a valuable security.
While section 465 is bailable, section 467 is not bailable and carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Singh had said that even if the allegations in the FIR were taken at face value, and in entirety, no offence under section 467 could be prima facie made out. She had also said Patker was a single mother of a minor son and had a dependent mother to look after, and that the latter had been deprived of her personal liberty due to the arrest.
Chief public prosecutor Aruna Pai, representing the state government, opposed Parkers plea and told HC the accused had also boasted of several other fake qualifications in her biodata, and that there existed enough material to show that the PhD degree certificate had been forged.
The HC, however, said that prima facie, a PhD degree certificate could not be considered as a document of valuable security.
“At this stage, at the most, the offence of forgery under section 465 may be made out prima facie. Section 467, forgery of a valuable security, is a matter of consideration. We dont propose to dwell upon it now since investigation is ongoing,” the HC said.
“The question of the petitioners (Patekars) complicity in section 467 would warrant consideration and examination. Sufficient time has elapsed since her arrest so as to facilitate effective investigation,” HC said while granting bail to Patker.
The court directed Patker to co-operate with the probe and to visit the nearest police station every Monday for the next one month.
HC will hear the plea for quashing of charges on September 6.
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