CET scam: Nobody should be spared, says HC

Srinagar: “There should be no impression that somebody is allowed to go off the hook”, the High Court observed Tuesday as it found Crime Branch’s reply  about the number of beneficiary candidates to be charge-sheeted in the multi-crore cash for CET paper scam of 2012 as “unconvincing.”
Hearing the suo-moto Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Justices Hasnain Massodi and Ali Mohammad Magrey reminded that Advocate General M I Qadri had on December 30, 2013 stated that 10 more candidates were being investigated by the Crime Branch.
However, Crime Branch reiterated that it has only identified nine more candidates who it said are being charge-sheeted by February 25.
“Crime Branch seems to have pulled up its socks. We have not got the convincing reply about the tenth candidate. Nobody should be allowed to escape, this is our concern,” the court said, adding, “There should be no impression that somebody is allowed to go off the hook.”
In its fresh status report, the Crime Branch again reiterated that there are only 21 candidates who have been prima facie found to have secured MBBS seat in CET-2012 by fraud, which was allegedly engineered by the former BOPEE chairman Mushtaq Ahmad Peer.
“Out of (21 candidates), 12 candidates are facing trial before the competent court of law while chargesheet against the second list of nine candidates is being filed by February 25.”
Besides nine candidates, Crime Branch is also likely to file chargesheet against 10 other persons including some parents.
Meanwhile, the bench also asked BOPEE to make public notice regarding the filling up of seats vacated due to cancellation of the selection and admission of 21 candidates. While the Board has already taken action against 12 candidates, it is likely to cancel admission of nine more candidates whose list has been forwarded to it by the BOPEE.
“You should issue a public notice in newspapers for all those candidates who could not make it to merit list due to the fraud, asking them that ‘See, Mr A,’ who may be studying in Patna, ‘here is a seat available to you, whether you want to take it or not’,” the bench said, adding, “It is an extraordinary situation and hence requires extraordinary measures.”
The direction followed the submission by amicus curie in the case, advocate B A Bashir, that the students who but for the fraud could not make it to the list should be allowed to decide rather than involving at least 17 organizations in making the “roundtable conference.”
“What for? It is only meant to delay the benefits to those for whom court initiated this motion.”
Advocate Bashir was referring to consolation with 17 different stakeholders by the BOPEE before taking final call on filing of the vacancies mid-term.
However, advocate G A Lone, representing BOPEE, reiterated the Board’s stand that consultations, scheduled for February 23 at Jammu, were necessary.
In another observation, the court made it clear to Crime Branch that it was not going to allow “bifurcation or trifurcation” of the investigation as far as money and assets part were concerned.
“Don’t chase only money that has changed hands, investigate assets disproportionate to income,” the court said.
Regarding complain by Crime Branch about the continued non-cooperation by various telecom companies with it, the bench said, “Had this scam surfaced a decade ago, how investigation agency would have dug the facts? Yes, it may be one of tools available but not the only tool available to the investigation agency. It should not be used as an excuse.”
However, the court said that it may array the telecom companies as respondents in the PIL so as to seek their response.
The formal order in the PIL was not available when this report was filed.