HC rejects petitions on Kishanganga scam as ‘attempt to hijack proceedings’

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by senior officers, seeking quashment of trial court order on framing of charges against them in multi-crore fraud in connection with pre-execution works and purchase of stores for Kishan Ganga Hydro Electric Project during 1992 to 1997.
“Once we closely examine the case set up by the petitioners, it would be amply clear that (they) are keen to persuade the court to focus on their isolated acts to accept the plea that allegation leveled and material placed on file does not disclose the commission of offence alleged against them. Such a course would not be permissible,” said a single bench of Justice Hasnain Massodi while dismissing nine clubbed petitions, seeking quashment of criminal proceedings under 561-A CrPC against them.
“All the petitions are bereft of any merit and only an effort to hijack the proceedings from the trial court,” the court said.
On November 11, 2007, the Special Anti-Corruption here had framed charges under Section 5(1) (c ) (d) read with Section 5 (2) Prevention of Corruption Act and 120-B RPC (criminal conspiracy) against 216 accused including 54 public servants—Chief Engineers, Financial Officers, Executive Engineers and clerks. Among accused also included 135 contractors.
According to Vigilance Organization, the petitioners and their co-conspirators hatched criminal conspiracy to draw huge amount on account of non-existent unauthorized and substandard works regarding the pre-execution works and purchase of stores for the Hydro Electric Project.
In execution of the conspiracy, the VO said, the accused swindled state exchequer of an amount of Rs 239.63 lakhs during 1992 to 1997.
The petitioners had sought the quashment of the order mainly on the ground that chargesheet and material appended thereto does not prima-facie show their involvement in commission of offences alleged against them.
“The issues raised in the petitions are to be left to the trial court so that (they) are dealt with after the prosecution brings evidence whatever, it proposes to press into service to bring home guilt to the accused, on the file,” the court said.
The court said the petitioners are to explain their stand, once confronted with the incriminatory material, if any, comes across in the cross examination and adduce evidence in their defence.
“This court in the name of exercise of inherent powers cannot step into the shoes of trial court and take upon itself the responsibility to deal with the issues that are better to be dealt with by the trial court,” the court said.
Some senior officers who are accused in the case include Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad, Ghulam Nabi Shah G M Kanth, Muhammad Shafi Hakak, Sheikh Abdul Hafiz, Ejaz Rasool, Bashir Ahmad Illahi,and B A Gangoo.
Meanwhile, the court observed the order framing charge has been passed by the trial court on seven years ago and there has been no progress in the trial.
“In the circumstances, trial court shall list the case at least once in a fortnight, draw and frame a schedule for trial on the first day, the matter surfaces before it identifying the calendar of witnesses to be examined as the trial proceeds,” the court said.
The government was represented in the case by advocate Shuja-ul-Haq.