A special court in Nashik acquitted seven persons including deceased counterfeiter and prime accused, Abdul Ladsab Telgi alias Kareem Lala, in the multi-crore stamp paper scam on Monday.Charges against Telgi, alleged to be the kingpin behind the scam that ranged across several States and cities, abated following his death in Bengaluru in October last year.Citing “lack of concrete proof”, Additional Sessions Judge P.R. Deshmukh acquitted all accused in the case that was first registered in Nashik in 2000. As many as 49 witnesses had been examined in the case.While Mumbai was Telgi’s ‘nerve centre’ for printing fake stamp papers, Nashik, being the location of the India Security Press (ISP), was where the scam originated.As per the case, Telgi had connived with officials of the ISP to create counterfeits of several types of legal documents including stamp papers, revenue stamps, and judicial court fee stamps, among others. The ISP was identified as the source of perforating machines that was used to print the fake stamp papers.He had been named in 47 cases lodged in several cities across the country in connection with the scam.The labyrinthine case has dragged on for more than 15 years. The names of a number of politicos, including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and rebel Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Dhule Anil Gote had cropped up in the case, along with those of several high-ranking policemen.In 2003, Gote, who was then with the Samajwadi Janata Party and an MLA, was arrested, becoming the first politico in the stamp paper racket to be arrested. A number of high-ranking police officers from Mumbai too were arrested. The arrest of two of Telgi’s couriers from Bengaluru’s Cottonpet in August 2000 had first led to the unravelling of the scam and its magnitude. A native of Karnataka’s Belagavi district, Telgi, who was under the police radar since the 1990s, was first arrested in 2001 from Ajmer by a team of the Bengaluru police. The Central Bureau of Investigation had taken over the case from the Maharashtra police in 2004 and had filed a charge sheet against 66 persons including Telgi in July 2005. Telgi was finally convicted in 2007 after he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 29 years in prison.