ETT Scam: Don’t ‘pick and choose’ arrests, HC tells Crime Branch

SRINAGAR: The J&K high court on Thursday asked crime branch of police, investigating the scam involving elementary training colleges in the state, not to pick and choose arrests even as it favoured custodial integration of the accused to “unearth the truth at the earliest.”
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey also censured delay in the completion of the investigation and asked the Inspector General of Police, Crime Branch, to handover the investigation to more than one officer.
“All those persons, who till date have been prima facie found to be involved in commission of crimes, it appears have not been arrested. Custodial interrogation of the accused persons will further help the investigating agency to unearth the truth at the earliest. The arrests have not to be made by adopting pick and choose method,” said the division bench after perusal of a status report giving details about the progress of the investigation in respect of cases (FIR No. 27/2013, P/S Crime Branch, Kashmir and FIR: 36/2013, Crime Branch, Jammu.”
The cases have been registered under 5(2) of Prevention of corruption Act ) as well as RPC sections of 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (counterfeit seal).
The report has also highlighted that the properties of the accused persons, raised through fraud, have been identified and matter was being pursued.
“It appears that huge number of ETT institutes are involved in the commission of crime. Entrusting of investigation to one investigation officer may not serve the public interest,” the court said and expressed hope that the IGP will workout mechanism to hand over the investigation to more than one police officer and involve them in investigating the cases of different years to conclude it at the earliest.
“At the moment, in the manner the investigation is going on, it will definitely take years together for its completion. Delay in investigation of a criminal case, in itself defeats the purpose sought to be achieved by punishing the persons, who commit crimes,” the court said, and emphasized that an orderly society needs immediate investigation of crimes and bringing culprit to justice at the earliest. “One of the reasons for increase of crime in the society is the delay in investigating it and in punishing the accused. The (IGP) shall take immediate steps for entrusting the investigation of the case to more than one police officer,” the court added.
A preliminary inquiry conducted by the Board of School Education (BOSE) into the training course by the ETT colleges has already described it a “big scandal run by mafia in league with the top brass in the BOSE.”
In another direction, the court directed the Government to issue an order for constitution of Committee which the Commissioner Secretary Education Department said would be constituted for harmonising various rules pertaining to the functioning of the ETT colleges.
“As already directed, one of the members of the Committee shall have to be a law knowing person/legal expert. In view of the seriousness involved in the issue, which concerns future of the students, the Committee shall convene fortnightly meetings and submit its report to the registry (of court) about the decisions taken and the manner, in which those decisions are being implemented, fortnightly,” the court said.
In his compliance report, the Commissioner Secretary has stated that a meeting was held on 8 August wherein among other issues, amendment in rules, registration procedure along with inspection related provisions were discussed. The meeting also discussed post registration monitoring mechanism including periodical inspection, ensuring proper functioning of the Institutions, recovery of fees collected from the students by ETT Institutes, who have committed illegalities.
The commissioner secretary said that the provisions of J&K board of School Education Act 1975, J&K BOSE Regulations, J&K School Education Act 2002 and J&K School Education Rules 2010require to be harmonized.
The officer said that a decision has been taken to constitute a committee comprising of officers from the administrative department as also from BOSE to examine the legal provisions and submit necessary recommendations for amendments.
The officer said that the Committee, so constituted, shall explore the possibility of inserting express provisions in the Regulations for strengthening of mechanism for monitoring of ETT Institutions to further ensure effective post registration monitoring to exclude the incidents of bogus classes being conducted and that same does not recur in future.