ETT Scam: HC seeks investigation status from IGP crime
SRINAGAR, Dec 24: The high court has said that the Crime Branch is yet to bring investigations into a multi-crore Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) colleges scam to its logical conclusion.
“The crime branch is yet to do many things in bringing the matter to its logical conclusion,” reads an order passed by a division bench of the high court comprising of Justices M H Attar and A M Magrey.
The court has said that it expects that the investigation in respect of other allegations into the issue will also be concluded at the earliest. “The IGP Crime Branch to file status to file status report before next date of hearing about the steps taken for completion of investigation in respect of other cases as well,” the court has directed.
The court has further asked the commissioner secretary to government education department to file affidavit indicating therein as to what are the proposed modification, which are to be incorporated in the rules of 2010 and which type of administrative orders are required to be passed. “The affidavit be filed before the next date of hearing.”
On October 21, the High Court had given four weeks time to the state government to file status report with regard to investigations into two FIRs registered by police in a multi crore ETT colleges scam.
The court had asked the crime branch of police to file fresh status report with regard to two FIRs registered for offences of corruption (under 5 (2) PC Act) as well as RPC Sections of 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (counterfeit seal).
The investigation pertains to 494 ETT colleges in Jammu and about 70 such institutes in Kashmir. The crime branch was investigating their batch-wise details from 2003 onwards.
Pertinently, an enquiry conducted by JKBOSE had termed this fraud as: “a big scandal run by mafia in league with the top brass in the BOSE.”
There are two cases registered in the ETT scam. One is in Srinagar and another in Jammu. The cases have been registered for offences of corruption (under 5 (2) PC Act) as well as RPC Sections of 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (counterfeit seal).
The former chairman of BOSE, Dr Sheikh, was arrested by the Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police on August 4, 2015 for his alleged role in granting permission to the establishment of ETT Colleges in the State. All the 15 accused in the scam including Dr Sheikh are out on bail.
On April 16, 2016 the High Court had dismissed a petition seeking quashment of one of the two FIRs registered in the scam.
Munish Suri, promoter and sole trustee of Calliope ETT College, Kathua and one of the accused in the alleged scam had filed a petition seeking quashment of FIR Number 36/2013 registered by crime branch in Jammu.
“We pleaded before the Court that by virtue of SRO 202 of 1999 dated June 3, 1999 the state government had declared that Crime Branch Kashmir and Jammu will function as two police stations in their respective jurisdictions. So the FIR registered by the crime branch Jammu deals with a separate investigation even of the nature of crime is the same,” sources in the high court had informed.
However, Justice Attar dismissed the petition of Suri wherein he had sought quashing of FIR number 36 pertaining to his involvement in the scam.
Pertinently, on August 14, 2015 while expressing its concern over the delay in investigations into scam involving elementary training colleges in the state, the high court had asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Crime Branch, to handover the investigation to more than one officer.
The cases have been registered under 5(2) of Prevention of corruption Act) as well as RPC sections of 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (counterfeit seal).
“It appears that huge number of ETT institutes is involved in the commission of crime. Entrusting of investigation to one investigation officer may not serve the public interest,” the high court had said and expressed hope that the IGP will workout mechanism to hand over the investigation to more than one police officer and involve them in investigating the cases of different years to conclude it at the earliest.
“At the moment, in the manner the investigation is going on, it will definitely take years together for its completion. Delay in investigation of a criminal case, in itself defeats the purpose sought to be achieved by punishing the persons, who commit crimes,” the high court had said, and emphasized that an orderly society needs immediate investigation of crimes and bringing culprit to justice at the earliest.
“One of the reasons for increase of crime in the society is the delay in investigating it and in punishing the accused. The (IGP) shall take immediate steps for entrusting the investigation of the case to more than one police officer,” the high court had added.
After being reprimanded by the High Court, the crime branch concluded its investigations and filed charge sheet before the anti corruption court.
In another direction, the high court had directed the Government to issue an order for constitution of Committee which the Commissioner Secretary Education Department said would be constituted for harmonising various rules pertaining to the functioning of the ETT colleges.
“As already directed, one of the members of the Committee shall have to be a law knowing person/legal expert. In view of the seriousness involved in the issue, which concerns future of the students, the Committee shall convene fortnightly meetings and submit its report to the registry (of court) about the decisions taken and the manner, in which those decisions are being implemented, fortnightly,” the high court had said.