The Bold Voice of J&K

Court frames charges against Ex-Chairman BOSE, others in ETT scam

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JAMMU: Special Judge Anticorruption Jammu Tahir Khurshid Raina on Saturday framed charges, in much publicized ETT Scam, against Mohd Abdullah Charoo Ex-Chairman BOSE, Bashir Ahmed Dar the then Director Academics and owner of ETT colleges.The gravamen of the charge-sheet against the accused is grant of alleged illegal permissions by the accused-public servants (the then J&K Board of School education authorities) to the accused-beneficiaries/owners and many others for establishing of Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) Institutes in the private sector of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir in the year, 2000 onwards.
Unfortunately, this illegal cum unthoughtful act laid the foundation of an unprecedented scam in the history of educational sector of the State, as described in the charge-sheet.
The case set up by the prosecution in the main as well as in the supplementary charge-sheets is that the accused-public servants have granted 22 illegal permissions in the first instance for establishing ETT institutes which later on led to opening of floodgates of said institutions in the length and breadth of the State of J&K. However, out of the said 22 institutes, the owners/settlers of only five stand charge-sheeted by the investigating agency and rest of owners seem to have managed their escape from the clutches of law.
It was in context of this uneven, unjust and unfair dealing with the case by the Investigating Officer (IO) in the earlier investigation that this court, while giving various directions for further investigation, also directed the I.O to look into this issue afresh so that no similarly circumstanced can manage to go scot-free from the writ of law. Though the SIT has brought on record illegal permission letters issued in favour of all said institutes by the accused-public servants with other details of their working, but failed to array the owners of said institutes as the accused in the supplementary charge-sheet for the reasons but known to it.
Court observed that the material on record in the form of main and supplementary charge-sheets prima-facie reflects the criminality committed by them as like that of the charge- sheeted accused. Therefore, the said left out owners cannot claim different treatment and watch these all proceedings in the court as spectators. They are similarly circumstanced in context of managing the illegal permissions from the accused-public servants and based thereon they established their illegal institutes to simply earn the money by illegal means. Therefore, once their very foundation for establishing these institutes is ex-facie similar to that of already arraigned accused, they cannot be treated differently but have to face the writ of law. How to catch them now through the process of law is the next question before the court.
Court further observed that law is not helpless to deal with such a situation where the IO has either on extraneous consideration or inadvertently given clean chit to the real accused in the case during the course of investigation. Fact remains that the criminal court, while not acting as the post office or the spokes person of the prosecution, if finds the complicity of any such person in the commission of offence, is very well empowered under the Code of Criminal Procedure (for short “the Code”) to catch him to face the writ of the law.
There are two stages anticipated under the Code when the criminal court can deal with such a lapse in the investigation/charge-sheet to bring to book the unexposed faces who are the part of the crime. One at the stage of charge when the court has to take cognizance of the case and second during the course of trial, when the incriminating evidence comes before the court against such persons, and based thereon, the court, by invoking the provision of Section-351 of the Code, corresponding to Sec-319 of the Central Code, can array such persons as accused and summon them to face the trial.
Court further observed that however, in the instant case, here is the stage when this court has to take cognizance of this case as it is fixed on charge. Here it is apposite to mention that this court is also a court of Magistrate and has trappings of both as a court of Magistrate and the court of Sessions (For ref- Diwan Singh V/s State & Anr. Once this court is also a court of Magistrate, it can follow the mandate of Sec-190 of the Code, read with Sections 173 & 204 of the Code. As per the mandate of Sec-190, Cr.P.C, the Magistrate is empowered to take cognizance of the offence on the basis of three sources as put in the said provision. If the Magistrate, while exercising said power, has taken cognizance of the offence based on the police report, filed U/Sec 173, Cr.P.C, the Magistrate is fully empowered to summon any other person as an additional accused, who from the facts stated in the charge-sheet, may appear to have committed the offence. Thus, the Magistrate can ignore the conclusion drawn by the investigating officer in the charge-sheet so far as arraying of the new accused is concerned. It is by virtue of said legal position, Court propose to catch the left out offenders, who have managed to escape the clutches of law. My appreciation of the law on the point draws a full legal strength and acknowledgement from the judgement of our own High Court delivered in case titled T.R Kalra V/s State.
At the risk of repetition, the complicity of left outowners of ETT institutes in the offence, as discussed at length in the preceding paras, is no different to that of the already arraigned accused. The incriminating facts and circumstances as discerned from the foregoing paras encompasses all the twenty two beneficiaries as privi to the guilt. Accordingly, based on the above observations, the left out owners of various so-called ETT institutes are hereby arrayed as accused in the case. Bailable warrant for an amount of Rs 20,000/- be issued against each of the said accused-promoters for their appearance before this court on the next date of hearing to be heard on charge.
APP is directed to get the warrants executed against the newly arrayed 17 accused.

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