Srinagar, Apr 25: In one of the major convictions in the history of the State, a local Court today convicted the former Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE) chairman, Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, and 42 others in infamous paper sale scam. He has been awarded 16 year jail term and a penalty of Rs one Crore for committing the offence under Prevention of Corruption Act.
The main broker Sajad Ahmad Bhat has also been awarded 12 years jail term and Rs 50 lakh fine; his two associate brokers – Mohammad Amin Ganai and Suhail Ahmad Wani- have been awarded 12 year jail term and fine of Rs 25 lakh each and two other assistants – Haroon Rashid Lone and Shabir Ahmad Dar – have been awarded six year jail term and a fine of Rs 5 lakh each; the parents of student have been awarded six year jail term and a fine of Rs 5 each and students have been awarded a jail term of two years each. However, seven accused were acquitted by the Court.
Special Judge Anti-Corruption Srinagar Y P Bourney while awarding these jail terms and fine to the accused in the scam disposed off the challan filed against them and directed the convicts, who were on bail, be taken into custody and shall undergo the sentences at Central Jail Srinagar.
Those present including Mushtaq Peer were taken into custody while arrest warrants were issued to those who were absent. “Let a separate warrant for the arrest and undergoing the sentences be issued against the convicts who are absent today”, Court directed.
Court has made it clear that the imprisonment period which the accused have already undergone shall be reduced to the awarded sentence.
Peer was arrested on November 23, 2013 by the Crime Branch after the investigation revealed that he had sold the CET-2012 papers along with answer keys for Rs 60 lakhs. He was charge-sheeted along with more than 50 other accused.
The Daily Excelsior carried a series of stories about the scam right from the beginning and a day before the arrest of Peer it broke the story that he along with others will be arrested. A senior lawyer told Excelsior that convictions took place as Crime Branch headed by the then IG, Syed Javed Mujtaba Gillani, assisted by the other officers, built a water tight case against the accused.
It may be mentioned here that government had insisted that Peer was sole custodian and trustee of the question papers for CET-2012. It said that he was found to have abused his official position by making the sale of question papers along with answer key prior to conducting of examination and conferred the undue benefit upon the beneficiaries, resulting in the selection of undeserving candidates for MBBS.
The High Court granted bail to Peer in May last year. The High Court and the Trial Court had earlier rejected several bail applications by Peer given the gravity and seriousness of the offense committed by him. He had also withdrawn appeal before Supreme Court against the rejection of his application by the High Court.
The Crime Branch had filed the challan and supplementary challan against Mushtaq Ahmad Peer son of Peer Abdul Aziz of Bismilla Colony Hazratbal Srinagar (Former Chairman BOPEE); Farooq Ahmad Itoo son of Assad Ullah Itoo of Darigund Bijbehara (Now approver in the case), Sajjad Ahmad/Hussain Bhat son of Sona-ullah Bhat of Qaimoh, Kulgam; Haroon Rashid Lone son of Abdul Rashid Lone of Dayalgam; Bazilla Bilal Vaid daughter of Bilal Ahmad Vaid of New Colony Bijbehara; Bilal Ahmad Vaid son of Ahmad-Ullah Vaid of New Colony Bijbehara; Mushtaq Ahmad Lone son of Gulam Mohi-ud-Din Lone of Semthan Bijbehara, Gulam Mohi-ud-Din Lone son of Abdul Rehman Lone of Semthan Bijbehara, Yasir Yousuf Dar son of Mohammed Yousuf Dar of Pazalpora Bijbehara; Mohammed Yousuf Dar son of Moma Dar of Pazalpora Bijbehara; Shafiq-ur Rehman son of Late Fayaz Ahmad Lone of Kanelwan (Minor) Saika Manzoor daughter of Late (actually alive) Manzoor Darzi of Bijbehara (Minor) Khursheed Ahmad Dar son of Bashir Ahmad Dar of Chinigund Bijbehara; Bashir Ahmad Dar son of Haji Ghulam Rasool Dar of Chinigund Bijbehara, Amira Shakeel daughter of Abdul Qadir Rather of Mehnad Bijbehara; Abdul Qadir Rather son of Atta Mohammed Rather of Mehnad Bijbehara; Yasir Yousuf Hajam son of Late Mohammed Yousuf Hajam of Chandan Panjan Vessu; Naveed Ahmad Bhat son of Gulam Nabi Bhat of Marhama, Anantnag; Gulam Nabi Bhat son of Gulam Qadir Bhat of Marhama Anantnag; Sadam Farooq son of Farooq Ahmad Shah of Manghal Anantnag; Farooq Ahmad Shah son of Mohammed Abdullah Shah of Manghal Anantnag; Shahida Shafi (Minor) daughter of Mohammed Shafi Bandh of Kachachkoot, Awantipora; Mohammed Shafi Bandh son of Abdul Gani Bandh of Kachachkoot, Awantipora; Ahmad Faraz son of Mohammed Iqbal Reshi of Naibasti Anantnag; Mohammed Iqbal Reshi son of Ghulam Mohammad Reshi of Naibasti Anantnag; Mohammed Amin Ganai son of Mohamamd Ramzan Ganai of Chee Anantnag; Mir Wajid Majeed son of Abdul Majeed Mir of Wandilo Kukarnag District Kulgam; Mir Danish Majeed daughter of Abdul Majeed Mir of Wandilo Kukarnag District Kulgam; Abdul Majeed Mir son of Sona-ullah Mir of Wandilo Kukarnag District Kulgam; Fida Hussain son of Mohammed Yousuf of Kanelwan Bijbehara; Ruhail Amin son of Amin Mir of Gulbarg Colony Haiderpora, Srinagar; Mohammed Amin Mir son of Habib Ullah Mir of Gulbarg Colony Haiderpora, Srinagar,; Hilal Ahmad Shokli son of Mohammed Abdullah Shokli of Mattan Chowk Anantnag; Imtijaz-ul-Hussain Shah son of Altaf Hussain Shah of Loharna, Kishtwar, Altaf Hussain Shah son of Gander Shah of Loharna, Kishtwar, Yasmeen Jan daughter of Jan Mohammed Dar of Rihaab Sahab Ali Kadal Srinagar; Jan Mohammed Dar son of Gulam Qadir Dar of Mohalla Rihaab Sahab Ali Kadal; Arooj Mushtaq Kenu daughter of Mushtaq Ahmad Keno of Sadiq Abad Anantnag; Mushtaq Ahmad Kenu son of Abdullah Kenu of Sadiqabad Anantnag; Mushtaq Ahmad Dar son of Sona Ullah Dar of Sandoo Achabal Anantnag; Heena Saleem Mir daughter of Mohammed Saleem Mir of Chee, Anantnag; Mohammed Saleem Mir son of Mohammed Ismail Mir of Chee, Anantnag; Afroza Akhter wife of Manzoor Ahmad Sheikh of Wanihama, Anantnag; Shabir Ahmad Dar son of Abdul Razzak Dar of Mir Dantar, Anantnag; Naresh Kumar Pandita son of Omkar Nath Pandita of 42/1 JDA Rajinder Nagar, Ban Talab Jammu; Saima Hussain daughter of Mohammed Hussain Bhat of Nowgam, Shangus Anantnag; Abdul Hamid Bhat son of Ghulam Ahmad Bhat of Kralteng Sopore; Suhail Ahmad Wani son of Sona-ullah Wani of Nanal, Anantnag; Bashir Ahmad Tantray son of Mohammad Shaban Tantray of Wanbal Rangreth Srinagar; Mehvish Bashir daughter of Bashir Ahmad Tantray of Wanbal Rangreth Srinagar; Dr. Praveen wife of Mohammed Shafi Bhat of Qayoom Colony Rawalpora Srinagar; Beenish Bhat daughter of Mohammed Shafi Bhat of Qayoom Colony Rawalpora, Srinagar; Dr. Sabina wife of Showkat Hussain Ahangar of Hafiz Colony Peer Bagh Srinagar and Mansha daughter of Showkat Hussain Ahangar of Hafiz Colony Peer Bagh Srinagar in Case FIR No. 24 of 2013 P/S Crime Branch Kashmir, Srinagar for offences Under Sections 420, 406, 201, 120-B Ranbir Penal Code and 5(1)(d) r/w 5(2) Prevention of Corruption Act.
Court has held that Peer, being at the helm of affairs as Chairman of the Board, occupied the top position which he has abused to the fullest by orchestrating the criminal conspiracy for putting on sale the question papers, the secrecy of which he was under obligation to maintain.
“This dastardly crime is his brainchild and it would not have been possible for the others to have even a glimpse of the question papers had he not defied the State by throwing to winds requisite standards of probity expected from a public servant of his caliber and stature having served as teacher at highest level for the maximum part of his career and chosen to hold the coveted position even after his superannuation”, Court recorded.
The conspiracy, Court said, was planned so conspicuously by Peer who took full advantage of the experience of years acquired by him as to the trends in results of previous years by not providing the complete sets of question papers so as to guard against any possible suspicion. The kind of duplicity exhibited by him is further evident from the two different styles of signatures put in by him at the time of his examination when handed down the charge and further examination under section 342 CrPC.
The conduct of Peer, court added in joining hands consciously with the brokers for putting the question papers of entrance examination on sale amounts to blatant abuse of his official position of the worst kind, besides, the breach of the trust and utter betrayal of the confidence reposed by the Government of the time in him by choosing him for the coveted position even after his superannuation and the kind of fraud played by him with the careers of thousands of meritorious students as well as their parents who had all alone toiled hard and burnt midnight oils for making it to the merit list.
“Further, far from showing any remorse for what he did, he has no hesitation in blaming the then Chief Minister for his involvement into this case. He has further, shaken the confidence of the public at large into the fairness of the working of such statutory bodies which, it would take years of concerted efforts to restore, as such incidents leave a deep imprint on the minds of the public at large, besides, an occasion to the wily elements to exploit the situation for their advantage by citing such examples. These are some of the reasons for large scale brain drain from the state and the other law and order problems faced by the State in the contemporary times”, read the judgment. “Therefore, this accused deserves no leniency at all”, the court said.
“He is therefore, sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for five years the maximum term provided for offence under section 5(1)(d) r/w 5(2) P. C. Act (as reduced from seven years to five years vide Act No.8 of 2014 dated 22-03-2014)”, court directed.
“Given the quantum of the illegal gains made by the said convict and the growth therein during the past six years, he is sentenced to pay a fine of Rupees one Crore”, court directed.
Court has ordered for his rigorous imprisonment of three years for offence u/s 409 RPC, which otherwise is the maximum imprisonment for offence punishable under section 406 RPC for which he was mistakenly charged but corrected afterwards.
Court while considering the gravity of the crime and the number of students deprived of their lawful berths, said Peer is further sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of seven years for offence u/s 420 RPC.
“He shall further undergo rigorous imprisonment of one year for offence u/s 120-B RPC and all these sentenced shall run consecutively and fine imposed shall be recovered from the movable/immovable assets
of the convict in terms of the provisions of section 386 CrPC for which a separate warrant be issued to the Collector Srinagar”, read the judgment.
Coming to three brokers -Sajjad Ahmad, Mohammad Amin Ganai and Suhail Ahmad Wani who have made the maximum out of it by involving as many candidates as they could and in the process have made fortunes for themselves in just one night which otherwise people at large fail to do even after a lifelong hard work and executed the plan by making elaborate foolproof arrangements.
Court sentenced Sajjad Ahmad to rigorous imprisonment for five years for the commission of offence u/s 5(1)(d) r/w 5(2) P.C. Act and 120-B RPC and to pay a fine of Rs 50 lakh. “He shall further undergo rigorous imprisonment of seven years for offence u/s 420 RPC. The sentences shall run consecutively and fine imposed shall be recovered from the movable/immovable assets of the convict in terms of the provisions of section 386 CrPC for which a separate warrant be issued to the Collector Srinagar”, court further directed.
Court said two other brokers – Mohammad Amin Ganai and Suhail Ahmad Wani – have also made good fortunes in the deal, as such, they are sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for five years for the commission of offence u/s 5(1)(d) r/w 5(2) P.C. Act and 120-B RPC.
“Taking into account the illicit gains made by them, they are further sentenced to pay a fine of Rs 25 lakhs each. They shall further undergo rigorous imprisonment of three years for offence u/s 420 RPC and both the sentenced shall run consecutively” court directed. “The sentences shall run consecutively and fine imposed shall be recovered from the movable/immovable assets of the convicts in terms of the provisions of section 386 CrPC for which a separate warrant be issued to the Collector Srinagar”, Court directed.
Court said Haroon Rashid Lone and Shabir Ahmad Dar have only assisted the Sajjad Ahmad Bhat in carrying out the illegal sale by the latter as such awarded them sentence to rigorous imprisonment of three years for offence u/s 5(2) P. C. Act r/w 120-B RPC and to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakhs each.
“They are further sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of three years for offence u/s 420 RPC and both the sentence shall run consecutively. The fine imposed shall be recovered from the assets of the convicts in terms of the provisions of section 386 CrPC for which a separate warrant be issued to the Collector Srinagar”, read the judgment.
With regard to the parents and guardians of accused Bilal Ahmad Vaid, Gulam Mohi-ud-din Lone, Mohammed Yousuf Dar, Bashir Ahmad Dar, Abdul Qadir Rather, Gulam Nabi Bhat, Farooq Ahmad Shah, Mohammed Shafi Bandh, Mohammed Iqbal Reshi, Fida Hussain, Mohammed Amin Mir, Altaf Hussain Shah, Jan Mohammed Dar, Mushtaq Ahmed Kenu, Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, Abdul Hamid Bhat, Bashir Ahmad Tantray, Dar Paraveen, and Dr. Sabina, Court said their eagerness to see their wards in the coveted course have used their money power for grabbing illegally the berths which otherwise would have gone to the meritorious students whosoever deserved the most as such awarded them sentence to rigorous imprisonment of three years for offence u/s 5(1) (d) read with 5(2) P. C. Act and 120-B RPC and also to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh each. “They shall further undergo rigorous imprisonment of three years for offence u/s 420 RPC and both the sentenced shall run concurrently”, court directed.
So far as accused students Bazilla Bilal, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, Yasir Yousuf Dar, Ruhail Amin, Imtijaz-ul-Hussain Shah, Yasmeen Jan, Arooj Mushtaq Kenu, Heena Saleem, Mehvish Bashir, Beenish Bhat, and Mansha is concerned, Court said they had just completed their teens and attained the age of majority and most of them have fallen prey to the sinister designs of their over-ambitiousness parents/guardians who, instead of leading to the righteous path during their impressionable years of life, have pushed them to the situation wherein they have landed today.
But, these students, Court observed, have also not speared a thought for their meritorious brethren who deserved these berths on account of their superior merit and in the process, they have not only been turned out but have also lost precious years of their careers besides being stigmatized forever. “In these circumstances, they deserve special leniency from the Court. They are accordingly sentenced to simple imprisonment of one year for offence u/s 5(1) (d) r/w 5(2) P.C. Act and 120-B RPC. They are further sentenced to simple imprisonment of one year for offence u/s 420 RPC and both the sentenced shall run concurrently”, read the judgment.
In its 377 page historic pronouncement, Court observed that it is bounden duty to put on record that corruption is an extraordinary phenomenon and therefore, special skills are required to unearth such crimes of the magnitude which have a deep sacrilegious impact upon our society as a whole.
Court at the finishing of verdict recorded that instant case would not have seen light of day but for the unrelenting tirade against delays and arrears in general and corruption in particular with deep sense of responsibility to the cause of justice of the then Chief Justice MM Kumar, a great visionary in true sense. Without his intervention, Court said this case would not have been investigated and tried with so much of seriousness and promptitude.