DB directs J&K Govt to file status of two FIRs in Arms License Scam
STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: A Division Bench of High Court of J&K and Ladakh (Jammu Wing) comprising Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Puneet Gupta has directed the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to file the status report with regard to two CBI cases (FIRs) No. RCCHGO51201850006 and No.RCCHGO51201850007 pertaining to Arms License Scam being investigated by CBI wherein the CBI has sought prosecution sanction of IAS Officers allegedly involved in the scam.
The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh has directed the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to file the status report by or before July, 26, 2023.
These significant directions in Arms License Scam were issued in the much publicized Public Interest Litigation (PIL No.9/2012) titled Sheikh Mohd. Shafi & Anr V/s Union of India & Ors in which the petitioners have highlighted the lackadaisical approach of the J&K Government in granting prosecution sanction against tainted Bureaucrats involved in several scams including Arms License Scam.
When this PIL came up for hearing, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Supriya Chouhan and Mohd Zulkarnain Chowdhary invited the attention of the Court towards the four compilations filed by Advocate General D.C. Raina and two status reports filed by ACB/GAD highlighting that as on today prosecution sanction is awaited in more than 35 FIRs and with regard to Arms License Scam, the four compilations pointed out that in two FIRs pertaining to Arms License Scam, the prosecution sanction with regard to JKAS Officers has been issued by the Government of J&K and with regard to three IAS Officers, the proposal for prosecution sanction in CBI Case No. RCCHGO51201850006 and No.RCCHGO51201850007 was forwarded to the DoPT, Govt. of India in April, 2021.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed vehemently argued that DoPT, Govt. of India initially on June, 14, 2021 followed by reminders dated December, 31, 2021, May, 13, 2022, March, 24, 2023 and April, 17, 2023 wrote to the Chief Secretary, J&K contending therein that from the set of documents provided with the proposal the checklist under Single Window in terms of latest instructions contained in letter No.142/4/2012-AVD.I dated July 28, 2014 has not been furnished alongwith the proposal for sanction for prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act and returned the same to the J&K Government to send a complete proposal with supporting documents through Single Window system.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted that since June, 2021, the J&K Government is sitting over the matter of wide public importance as the case is related to National Security and the delinquent officers are accused of issuing Arms Licenses illegally for extraneous considerations while they were performing the duties as District Magistrates in militancy infested J&K. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that prosecution sanction with regard to JKAS Officers for similar offences has been accorded by the J&K Government but there is an attempt to shield the IAS Officers and for this reason only the J&K Government is sitting over the matter. He further submitted that the role of J&K Government is merely of a post office and the role of J&K Government is only to submit a foolproof proposal to DoPT which has to take a final call in the matter.
Advocate General D.C. Raina assisted by Senior AAG S.S. Nanda and Senior AAG Monika Kohli informed the Division Bench that the Government of J&K is serious in corruption matters and has speedily granted prosecution sanction in corruption cases for the last 4-5 years. The Advocate General further submitted that with regard to two CBI FIRs pertaining to Arms License Scam the Government of J&K is examining the matter as the Arms Licenses have been reportedly issued by the DMs to the Army Personnel and for this reason the issue is being examined. On the other hand Advocate S.S. Ahmed submitted that there can be no disparity in the case as with regard to JKAS Officers the prosecution sanction in the same FIRs has been granted and different treatment is being given to IAS Officers in order to shield them from prosecution.
At this stage DSGI Vishal Sharma submitted that there is a set protocol devised by DoPT Govt. of India and DoPT has been writing several communications since June, 2021 to the Govt. of J&K to follow the guidelines and submit the proposal of 03 IAS Officers in two CBI FIRs with supporting documents through Single Window system but the needful has not been done till date. He further submitted that as on today there is no prosecution proposal pending with DoPT, Govt. of India.
After heated arguments from both the sides, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh observed, “Status Report has been filed today. However, it appears that in respect of CBI cases bearing FIR Nos.RCCHGO51201850006 and No. RCCHGO51201850007, the prosecution sanction is awaited due to alleged lack of documents as pointed out by Union of India”.
With these observations, the Division Bench directed the Government of J&K to file the status report with regard to aforesaid two CBI FIRs before the next date of hearing i.e. July, 26, 2023.