Declare them proclaimed offenders: HC on CET scam absconders

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday reiterated its directions to Crime Branch of Police to take coercive action, including declaring 14 accused evading arrest in the Common Entrance Test-2012 scam, as proclaimed offenders and attaching their property.
As the hearing began before a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi, Advocate General M I Qadri, representing the Crime Branch, said that Special Anti-Corruption Judge Kashmir has already issued non-bailable arrest warrants against the absconders.
He said the 14 persons continue to evade arrest despite initiation of proceedings under section 512 CrPC.
“512 CrPc is an enabling provision which allows recording of evidence in absence of an accused, it is not a tool to secure presence of the accused,” the bench said, reiterating that Sections 87 and 88 of CrPC are the “tools” to secure their arrest.
Section 87 states that if the court has reason to believe that any person against whom a warrant has been issued by it has absconded or is concealing himself so that such warrant cannot be executed, the court may publish a written proclamation requiring him to appear at a specified place and at a specified time not less than thirty days from the date of publishing of such proclamation.
Section 88 of CrPC is regarding the attachment of property of person absconding and the court issuing a proclamation under Section 87 may at any time order the attachment of any property, movable or immovable, or both belonging to the proclaimed person.
So far, the Crime Branch has arrested 20 persons including former chairman of Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE) Mushtaq Ahmad Peer. However there are 14 other accused, beneficiaries as well as facilitators of the fraud, who are absconding and evading arrest despite being chargesheeted before the Special Anti-corruption Court here.
On last hearing, the court had directed the Crime Branch to “hone up its machinery” and press into service Sections 87 and 88 CrPC to ensure that accused are arrested without any delay.
Meanwhile, the bench dismissed bail applications of 15 persons who according to Crime Branch are involved in the scam.
Besides bail pleas, a court also dismissed petitions filed by two persons—Fida Hussain Lone and Mushtaq Ahmad Kenu—seeking quashment of proceedings against them under Section 561-A CrPC.
The directions to dismiss bail pleas followed submission by Crime Branch, represented by Additional Advocate General M A Chashoo that accused have indulged in the act which has shattered the collective conscience of people and they do not deserve bail.
He relied on the apex court judgment on rejecting bail to the accused if sought on similar grounds pleaded before the trial court.
Among the 15 persons whose bail pleas were rejected include Mohammad Iqbal Reshi, Ahmad Faraz, Farooq Ahmad Shah and Mushtaq Ahmad Lone.
The bench also reserved orders on the application for anticipatory bail by two female beneficiaries—Amira Shahkeel and Bazila Bilal.
Meanwhile, the bench also issued notice to government on the bail applications filed by two more absconding accused, Alfat Hussain Shah and Hilal Ahmad Shokli.