Srinagar: A local court here Tuesday issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against five accused including three beneficiary candidates, two of them girls, in the Common Entrance Test scam of 2012.
Besides the ‘kingpin’, Farooq Ahmad Itoo of Darigund, Bijbehara and two female beneficiaries—Bazila Bilal Vaid and Amira Shakeel—the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Kashmir, Mohan Lal Manhas, issued NBWs against ‘broker’ Haroon Rashid Lone of Dayalgam, Anantnag, and another candidate Sadam Farooq to secure their presence on next date of hearing on February 2.
The NBWs were issued after the investigation officer of Crime Branch failed to produce the five accused despite instructions by the court.
Earlier, as the proceedings in the case begun, the Crime Branch produced 17 accused including Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, the former chairman of Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE) who was arrested on November 23 last.
However, Peer’s counsel advocate Moulvi Aijaz took exception to failure of the Crime Branch to produce all but three minor accused in the case.
“They are hand-in-glove with some of the accused. They should have been hand-in-glove with us also in order to diffract public interest. If it’s good, they should also let us go. And if it’s wrong, then everyone should be treated in the same manner. Nobody is above law,” Aijaz said.
To this, the court observed that if some accused has made the confessional statement (Itoo in this case), he should have been arrested.
“If you were in process of making him approver, you should have approached the court for his pardon,” the judge said, adding, “What is explanation for IO in letting off the accused when he made confessional statement?”
Advocate Aijaz chipped in, asking the court to proceed against the IO for “washing the evidence” by letting off one of the kingpins in the case.
Chief Prosecution Officer of Crime Branch Khalid Muzaffar tried to reassure the court that all the accused will be produced on next date of hearing.
Advocate Aijaz again chipped in, calling attention of the court that “one of the accused let off by the Crime Branch is one of kingpins named by it.
“Main accused is one who has failed to discharge his duty which he was entrusted and who has played with the career of meritorious students,” the CPO responded, referring to Peer.
“I have reservation, this is defamatory,” Aijaz responded, adding, “Same arguments apply to IO. Why has he let off the accused? Why they are not investigating possibility of paper leak at printing press and treasury?”
The CPO replied: “There is enough evidence against the main accused, and I will show to this court on arguments of charge that a prima facie case is made against him.”
The CPO said that investigation by the Crime Branch was subjected to the scrutiny of the court and there are 52 witnesses in the case. “I will show this court that charge is made against the accused,” the CPO said.
Subsequently, the court observed that failure of the IO to produce all the accused “makes mockery of investigation and High Court guidelines.”
Among the seven accused, two of them—Adbul Qadir Rather, father of Amira Shakeel against who NBW was issued, and Ghulam Nabi Bhat—were produced by the Crime Branch first time since the trial of the case began on January 18. The duo also moved bail applications before court sent them to Central Jail Srinagar. Parents of two other beneficiaries against whom NBWs was issued already stand arrested in the case.
Meanwhile, the court also directed Superintendent of Jail Central Jail to provide proper treatment to one of the arrested beneficiary candidates Yasir Yousuf Dar. Dar, 21, according to his counsel, suffers from high blood pressure and had nose bleeding for three days till Saturday when he was taken to the SMHS Hospital.
Regarding Haroon Rashid, the Crime Branch has said that he distributed the CET papers to two beneficiary candidates against Rs 15 lakhs.