SRINAGAR: With the high court expressing concern over delay in completion of investigation into the alleged embezzlement of over Rs 113 crore funds in J&K Cricket Association, the government on Monday said it has no objection if the probe was handed over to some other agency.
“We are not averse to if the investigation is handed over to any other agency. We have no objection (to Crime Branch probe),” said Additional Advocate General Asif Ahmad Bhat before a division bench headed by Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone SJM Gilani and investigating officer in the case, Harmeet Singh (SP City east), were present.
“Yes there has been delay and we admit that the investigation moved at snail’s pace but there are reasons and one of the main being the damage caused by last year’s floods to the records and its reconstruction,” Bhat said, adding that the police needs experts to verify the financial statement and other matters.
“We have already taken up the matter regarding the services of financial expert with the government through PHQ. We are from executive wing while other agency (crime branch) has own experts. Besides, we are involved in maintaining law and order problems and carry other duties and as such it is also reason for the delay,” he added.
He also responded in affirmative to a query by division bench also comprising Justice Bansi Lal Bhat that the government has no objection if the enquiry was handed over to some other agency.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed last year by cricketers Majid Yaqoob Dar and Nissar Ahmad Khan, seeking directions by the court to conclude investigation in the case (FIR 27/2012) registered by police on March 10, 2012.
The police had filed the case following a complaint by then chairman JKCA Mohammad Aslam Goni through a fax mentioning that as per the report of then treasurer Manzoor Ahmad Wazir, bogus accounts on JKCA funds have been operated in the various J&K Bank accounts by the former general secretary and then treasurer under their joint signatures.
Advocate Mian Qayoom, representing the petitioners, said that no personal score was being sought to be settled by filing the petition.
“We are not against any person. All we want is that the money, which belong to public and has been misappropriated, should be recovered. Despite there being an in-house panel report, no action has been taken and this is the reason we are before the court,” he said while concluding his at the length arguments.
“The investigation is going nowhere and there is no progress which is clearly elucidated from the report filed by investigation agency before CJM in 2014 and the latest status report filed by the investigation agency. Comparing the reports would show that they are same. All we want is a fair investigation and those guilty should be brought to book.”
Advocate GA Lone, representing an impleaded party in the case, said that the investigation was not even going at snail’s pace.
“Involvement of some bank officials cannot be ruled out. Bogus accounts were created and even a number of transactions have taken place in a single day. Let the case be handed over to the crime branch as police investigation is going nowhere and is only taking us two years back,” he added.
Senior advocate RA Jan, representing Mohammad Ahsan Mirza, ex-treasurer of JKCA and the alleged main accused in the case, said that his client was ready to face any probe and has already volunteered himself.
“The record will bear him out. While everyone is after his blood, he wants that the truth shall come out. Let there be any time-bound investigation and if found guilty, he should be given any punishment,” Jan said.
About Mirza’s custodial interrogation as sought by the police, Jan said that the Supreme Court has made it clear that custodial interrogation should be avoided if accused is cooperating with the investigators. “He is ready to cooperate whenever investigation agency requires him.”
Advocate NA Ronga, representing another prime accused, Mohammad Saleem Khan (former general secretary JKCA), said his client has also volunteered to cooperate with the investigation agency while emphasizing that there should be fair and time bound probe.
“Those found guilty should be punished. Whosoever be the investigation agency, the probe should be made time-bound.”
Advocate Javed Iqbal, representing former chief minister and “current president JKCA” Farooq Abdullah, also called for time-bound probe into the scam.
“The enquiry should be with a time frame and should be concluded with all fairness,” Iqbal said.
Asked by the bench whether he too favours change of investigation, he said: “The (police) investigation is being done by competent people.”
“Why no final report has been filed so far when the case was registered in 2012?” the bench asked.
“It is for them (police) to explain but all I want is fair investigation,” he added.
After hearing all arguments from all parties, the court said that it will pass orders later in the case.