Ex-Addl CS, others acquitted in Jute Mat Scam
STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: After 23 years of investigation and trials, Special Judge Anti-corruption Ritesh Kumar Dubey has acquitted Ajit Kumar IAS, the then Additional Chief Secretary, Janak Singh Financial Advisor/Chief Accounts Officer, Ghulam Rasool Vakil alias Lassa Vakil in a much publicised Jute Mat Scam.
As per details, the case was registered on basis of a preliminary enquiry wherein it was established prima facie that SLPC members of Education Department headed by Ajit Kumar, the then Additional Chief Secretary (hereinafter referred as A-1) had placed a supply order for 3 lakh meters of Jute Mats with M/s Commercial Corporation Limited Srinagar on exorbitant rates in 1997-98 and caused huge loss to state exchequer by abuse of his official positions, in connivance with supplier firm. SLPC was constituted, which comprised Additional Chief Secretary as Chairman, Directors School Education Kashmir/Jammu and Director Industries or his representatives (not below the rank of Joint Director) as members, and FA/CAO Education department as member secretary. By virtue of an addendum to earlier order, another member Additional Secretary to Government, Education Department, A R Mubarki was also included in SLPC vide order dated 08-10-1997.
Special Judge Anti-corruption after hearing Senior Adv M A Goni and Adv D S Chouhan for Ajit Kumar observed that the prosecution has also failed in explaining why certain officers were picked and chosen for prosecution, and certain others left by believing them not guilty of any misconduct. “If the accused herein namely Ajit Kumar was guilty of misconduct in SLPC, the other members were equally responsible for the collective decision in the meeting except A K Mehta who made his endorsement of minutes of meeting subject to observations recorded by him. Though his observations were not by way of a clear refusal to put his signature yet those were preceded by his absence from the meeting,” the Court observed.
Court further observed that prosecution cannot be allowed to seek evidence to rebut and other pieces of evidence, by accused, instead of first itself proving the same under law. “In the above referred case, the situation was that the prosecution had failed in proving that the accused did not conduct the enquiry as claimed by him, whereas the prosecution has failed to discharge the burden of proving the facts alleged by it in the present case, and not just failed in leading evidence against some fact pleaded by the accused. In view of the observation made herein before, the prosecution has allowed the missing links noted herein before, to enter its chain of circumstances thereby either weakening or breaking the same. And the law is well settled that the prosecution must establish its case in such a manner that its chain of circumstances is not broken or weakened by any possible doubt, and that the same leads to one and only one hypothesis pointing to the guild of accused. The prosecution efforts fall short of achieving the same in this case,” the Court observed, adding that Court is not convinced that prosecution has been able to remove element of doubt from its accusations against accused as well as the charge framed by the court, beyond the shadows of all reasonable doubts by such strong evidence as could lead to one and only one hypothesis pointing to the guilt of accused and acquitted accused persons.