Rajani Pandit is the first Indian female private investigator based in Mumbai, India. Reportedly, she has solved more than 75000 cases at the national and international levels and has won numerous awards. She deals with cases which require personal, corporate, and employment investigations. Apart from being an honoured and famous detective, Rajani Pandit is also an author.
Rajani Pandit was born in 1962 (age 60 years; as of 2022) in the Palghar district of Maharashtra. She completed her graduation in Marathi Literature at D.G. Ruparel College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Matunga, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. According to Rajani, she worked part-time in an organisation as an office clerk. According to Rajani, her nature of being curious and the issues in society that she has seen throughout her life have a major role in inspiring her to be a detective. In an interview, Rajani Pandit revealed that she has played various roles to solve her cases such as that of a blind woman, a mentally retarded person, a dumb and deaf woman, a housemaid, a street vendor, etc.
Hair Colour: Black (dyed)
Eye Colour: Black
Rajani Pandit belongs to a middle-class Maharashtrian family.
Parents & Siblings
Rajani’s father, Shantaram Pandit was a sub-inspector in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Her mother’s name is Pramila. She has two brothers and a sister namely Vinod, Dilip, and Shobha Vaidya. She also has a nephew, who is a Marathi actor, Aditya Vaidya.
In an interview, Rajani shared her parents’ opinion on her choice of profession. She said that her parents mistrusted her decision initially, but her mother supported her throughout her journey. Rajani said,
My father said that this is not a suitable field for women. But my mom knew I had been very stubborn since I was young. She just said that I should be allowed to do whatever I want to do.”
In an interview, Rajani revealed that she had learnt the technique of investigation from her father. She said,
I was always a curious person–with my father in CID, I had learned the art of a thorough investigation.”
Husband & Children
Rajani is unmarried. According to Rajani, she did not get married because of her job as she was extremely dedicated to her work and never felt a need to get married and start a family. According to her, she did not want to put herself in a situation where she had to choose between family and work.
Rajani Pandit follows Hinduism.
India’s First Female Private Detective
Amateur Private Investigator
According to her, while pursuing her graduation in 1983, Rajani noticed one of her classmates and found something unusual in her behaviour. She decided to find out the truth and got to know that her friend was involved in sexual activities. Talking about this in an interview, Rajani said,
It all happened during those days when I was busy with my studies in college. One day, I found one of my classmates acting in a suspicious manner. She was going with a group of eight or nine boys. I chased her and when she went in a hostel with the boys, I came to know that she was trapped in the business of prostitution. I informed her parents, who initially did not accept it, but later thanked me for informing them. It was they who suggested that I become a detective.”
In an interview, Rajani shared another case that she cracked while she was working part-time in an organisation, where her colleague suspected her daughter-in-law of missing her jewellery from the house. Rajani decided to help her colleague and started keeping a watch across the street and at the lady’s house. When Rajani got to the bottom of the case, she found out that her colleague’s son was behind the theft.
The Flourishing Period
According to her, when she accepted her profession as a private investigator, she came to know about more issues in the lives of her colleagues in the organisations where she worked and in society as well. In a local self-organised event in Paldi, Ahemdabad she shared her career experience with the gathered audience and told them that she started being recognised through interviews after solving some minor cases. According to Rajani, a reporter approached her to seek her help in investigating a man to whom his sister was married. The reporter had received a letter saying that the said man is already married to another woman. This was the reason the reporter wanted Rajani to find the truth. Rajani shadowed the man, managed to contact him through a matrimonial advertisement for him that she found, and tried to be friends with him. She discovered that the man belonged to Jargaon in Uttar Pradesh, India. She visited his family in Jargaon and came to know that the man didn’t have good relations with his parents and first wife because of which he came to Mumbai and got married to the reporter’s sister. According to her, the reporter provided her publicity after this case soon after which Rajani appeared for a television interview for the first time as the first female detective. Rajani Pandit was first interviewed with ‘Hum Bhi Kisi Se Kam Nahi.’
The Suspicious Murder Case
According to Rajani, the most memorable and most challenging case that she solved in her career was a double murder case in which a woman was suspected that she had poisoned her husband for personal reasons. Later, she hired a killer to kill her son when she got to know through his friends that he is suspicious of his father’s death and asked them to keep an eye on her. Over time, the killer drove his bike in front of the woman’s son while he was driving. When the son lowered the glass of his bulletproof car to speak to the killer, he was shot dead. The family of the deceased reached out to Rajani asking for her help in finding out the killer. Rajani accepted the case and kept a private eye on the woman for two months but couldn’t get any information. She decided to enter the house as a housemaid. Rajani approached the woman’s masseur and asked for her help being a helpless woman searching for work. The masseur took Rajani to the woman and she got permission to work there; Rajani went undercover and lived at the house for six months. Rajani noticed a man who used to pay a visit to the house and they usually get into an argument. As they used to talk in different languages, Rajani used to record their conversation in a tape recorder, which used to record only for half an hour and would make a sound once the recording is done. One day the woman heard the sound of the tape recorder and became more attentive and started looking at Rajani suspiciously afterwards. She also started following Rajani whenever she used to go outside the house which made it more difficult for Rajani to contact and meet her teammates. One day the man who used to come to the house visited asking for money which led to an argument between them as the woman told him to not visit her or they will get caught by the police for the offence they have made. Rajani got more careful and tried to look out for a source to inform the police as there were no mobile phones back then. Rajani came up with a plan to get out of the house. She went to the kitchen and deliberately injured her foot with a knife. After looking at Rajani’s foot the woman asked her to go to the doctor for a dressing. Rajani got her chance and contacted the officials by making a call from the phone booth and got them arrested.
Rajani Pandit Detective Services
In 1991, after cracking various cases, Rajani Pandit decided to expand her business by establishing the foundation of ‘Rajani Pandit Detective Services,’ an agency providing detective services for every type of case across India. She used to operate her agency from Parekh Mahal in Shivaji Park, Mumbai and later shifted to Mahendra Mansion in Shivaji Park, Mumbai, India. According to Rajani, the agency also faced the consequences of her decision of being “the only female” detective. Reportedly, a newspaper agency refused to advertise her detective agency in the newspaper as there were no norms related to the functioning of detectives and their investigative agencies, and no woman had worked in the respective field before. Later, her agency started gaining popularity and the number of clients started increasing. In an interview, Rajani Pandit gave a glimpse of her journey and how she became able to gain more clients and popularity. She said,
In the beginning, I used to place advertisements in newspapers to get business. People from Delhi Doordarshan interviewed me after seeing one such advertisement. It gave me a nationwide exposure. I worked for all. Politicians, businessmen and Bollywood stars were regulars. My work ethic of not exploiting them with the information I possessed helped me in getting more clients.”
Call Data Records Scam
Reportedly, Rajani Pandit was arrested by Thane police on 2 February 2018 in the call detail record (CDR) scam. After 40 days in police custody, she was released on bail from the Thane Central Jail on 14 March 2018.
According to the officials, the other detectives who were under custody for the same named Rajani as their abettor. An officer from the crime branch stated the arrest of Rajani Pandit and said,
Upon interrogation and through their emails, we saw that two CDRs were sent to Pandit. We arrested her to know of her involvement in the case, as we had information that she had procured the records earlier as well.”
According to the media, an officer also informed that Rajani had bought some recordings earlier from the arrested detectives. The officer said,
Pandit had been obtaining the call records over a long time and she might have used it for extortion. We have been investigating the source of the leak.”
According to Rajani, a private investigator or a detective is supposed to help the client for which collecting information is necessary through every source it is available. Rajani said,
Is it wrong to access something that is readily available, especially when one doesn’t know about its legality? A private detective is supposed to help people. For that, proof is needed. So many times, we procure proof by invading people’s privacy. It is a tightrope we walk.”
According to the media, Rajani believed that those who were obtaining the records in the first place should have been interrogated rather than targeting detectives to whom it was sold. Rajani said,
If the telecom companies are getting repeated requests from an email ID, or if multiple people are requesting the details, why were they giving it? Couldn’t they have checked if it is indeed the police who are demanding these records? If these details are so confidential, how are they so readily available? When the CDRs are being made available openly in the market, don’t you feel the investigation should have been focused on the people making them available to others? Instead, it was targeted towards the people to whom it was sold.”
According to the media, Rajani Pandit’s lawyer, Madhav Thorat believed that this was a groundless arrest. Madhav Thorat also added,
She had not asked for the CDRs. She just had them on her mail, sent by a third person. There is no proof that she was intending to blackmail someone with those details. She was willing to cooperate. There was no ground for her arrest. The chargesheet will show what role they assign to my client. We are ready for all possibilities.”
Rajani’s other lawyer, Vishal Bhanushali also expressed his view on the arrest of Rajani. He said,
She has been doing social work for 32 years, helping people in personal matters. There have been instances where she didn’t charge any money.”
As per the report by the media, the name of Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui also came to the light during the investigation of the call detail scam; he was summoned by the Thane police; however, he did not turn up and tweeted a statement calling it unsubstantiated allegations. After her release from jail, when Pandit was asked about Nawauddin, she said,
I do not have any connection to anyone, I also don’t know who Nawazuddin Siddiqui is.”
Awards, Honours, Achievements
Rajani Pandit is the recipient of more than 57 awards including the Hirkani award from Doordarshan, an award which appreciates the women who have contributed to society through working in their respective filed.
- She also goes by the name Lady Bond of India.
- According to Rajani, she has investigated the cases of high-profile politicians, businessmen, and Bollywood actors in her career life.
- Rajani’s life as a detective has been represented in a documentary titled ‘Lady James Bond,’ a film by Dinkar Rao; the film was released in 2019.
- From her career experiences, Rajani Pandit has written two Marathi books namely ‘Mayajal’ and ‘Cheharya Adche Chehare’ (Faces Behind Faces, co-authored by Shilpa Sarpotdar).
- She has received many awards from various renowned persons including Anna Hazare.
- One of the cases solved by Rajani Pandit has been picturised in a Tamil language film titled ‘Kuttrapayrichi’ (2020); the film features Trisha Krishnan, Super Subbarayan, and Priyamani.