Srinagar: The J&K High Court has warned cellular companies with ‘coercive steps’ over non-cooperation with crime branch regarding its investigation into the conducted of Common Entrance Test by Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE) in 2010.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench headed by Justice Hasanin Massodi also asked Investigation officer of the Crime Branch to spell out reasons for closing the probe into the conduct of CET in 2009 and 2011 respectively.
“Telecom companies were approached for divulging necessary information in connection with CET 2010. With only exception of AIRCEL, (they) have failed to show any response. The conduct of Telecom Companies amounts to obstruction in investigation and therefore administration of justice,” observed the bench also comprising Justice Bansi Lal Bhat after perusal of the status report filed by the Crime Branch.
“Telecom companies need to be reminded that coercive steps can be taken to make them ‘part with’ necessary information in the interest of smooth investigation, unless they of their own provide the requisite information to the Investigating Officer.”
One of the options available to the Court, Amicus Curiae and senior advocate B A Bashir suggested was to frame a Rule (contempt proceedings) against responsible officers of the telecom companies for disobedience of the Court order.
“Expecting the Companies to extend necessary co-operation to the Investigating Officer, such an option and other options may be resorted to only in case of continuing disobedience,” the bench said.
After the registration of case (FIR no. 24/2013), the crime branch investigation was initially restricted to CET selection of 2012.
However, once large scale malpractice surfaced on investigation in making selection to different professional courses, the scope of investigation was extended on the directions of the court into CET 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Regarding the CET-2012, the Crime Branch has concluded its investigation and has presented the charge sheet against all accused including the alleged architecture of the multi-million scam, the former chairman of Board of professional Entrance Examination Mushtaq Ahmad Peer.
In all sixty persons have been charge sheeted include nine minor among 29 students, 24 parents and 6 brokers besides the main accused Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, who was arrested in November 2013.
“The impression gathered from latest status report is that investigation as regards CET 2009, 2010 and 2011 is being conducted and Investigating Officer is yet to arrive at a definite conclusion,” the bench said. However, Afaq Ahmad (Investigating Officer), who was present in the Court submitted that probe regarding 2009 and 2011 has been concluded “as no irregularity came across in selection made by Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE) for various professional courses.”
“Status report does not indicate, with sufficient clarity, status of investigation conducted as regards CET 2009 and 2011 so as to enable Amicus to come up with the stand against or in response to the conclusion drawn by Investigating Officer,” the court said and directed the Investigating Officer to file a comprehensive status report, indicating the mode and manner of investigation as also “concretising the reasons that persuaded him to close the probe.”
Subsequently, the court asked the crime branch to file a fresh status report before the next date of hearing on April 20.