Srinagar: Former chairman of Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE), Mushtaq Ahmad Peer’s bail plea was rejected for the second time in two months by a local court here on Saturday.
The Special Judge Anti-Corruption Kashmir, Mohan Lal Manhas also denied bail to 16 other accused including one of the brokers in the scam, Sajjad Ahmad Bhat for his alleged involvement in the scam involving selling of Common Entrance Test papers before the scheduled examination in 2012.
The other accused also include six beneficiary students and nine parents who have been charge-sheeted by the Crime Branch of police which is investigating what has been described as “mega scandal of BOPEE.”
“At this stage if the accused who have dared to indulge in the crime of such a magnitude are released on bails, there is every possibility of accused to extend threats/intimidate/pressurize/temper the evidence of approver (‘broker’ Farooq Ahmad Itoo),” the court said.
Therefore, the court said, it will be “highly hazardous and dangerous” to release them on bails at this stage.
“(It) is sure to have rippling effect upon the fair trial of the case,” the court said, observing that the accused have failed to carve out a strong case for bails in their favour.
“Therefore the arguments rendered by counsel representing them being legally unsustainable, are repelled, rejected and discarded,” the court said.
While denying any relief to 63-year-old Peer, who is in jail since November 23, the court reiterated that he has shattered the confidence of meritorious students and public at large.
“Mushtaq by selling question papers along with the answer keys through brokers—Farooq Ahmad Itoo (now approver), Sajjad Ahmad Bhat, and Haroon Rashid Lone—incurred huge undue pecuniary benefit to himself to the tune of Rs 60 lakhs. Criminal acts of accused have murdered the merit of meritorious/hardworking and deserving candidates, whereby confidence of meritorious students and public at large has been shattered,” the court observed.
Farooq Itoo has been granted pardon after he voluntarily chose to be an approver in the case, described to be of “great societal and public importance” by the court.
“In his deposition before CJM Srinagar under section 164 CrPC, Itoo, as approver has shown complicity of Mushtaq Peer, Sajad and Haroon along with other accused in the crime alleged against them,” the court said, adding, “Itoo’s statement is most vital piece of evidence for prosecution.”
The Judge further observed that the approver has not so far testified before the court as prosecution witness as charges are yet to be framed against them.
On December 17 last year, the court had rejected Peer’s first bail plea with the observation that ‘like Caesar’s wife, he was required to be above suspicion and must have discharged his duties honesty as chief of the BOPEE.’
“Peer was holding office of chairman BOPEE for selecting meritorious MBBS students as ‘office of public trust,’ and was required to exhibit himself to be a person of impeccable integrity, unimpeachable character, honest to the core with the high moral values,” the court had said.
It was also for the second time that the court rejected bail plea of Sajad Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Qoimoh, Kulgam.
The students whose bail application was rejected include Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, Yasir Yousuf Dar, Khursheed Ahmad Dar, Yasir Yousuf Hajam, Naveed Ahmad Bhat and Ahmad Faraz.
The parents denied relief are: Bilal Ahmad Vaid, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Lone, Mohammad Yousuf Dar, Bashir Ahmad Dar, Abdul Qadir Rather, Ghulam Nabi Bhat, Farooq Ahmad Shah, Mohammad Shafi Bandh and Mohammad Iqbal Reshi.
The BOPEE has already cancelled the admission of the six arrested students as well as of six others, three of them minors (below 18 years).