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Court directs further investigation in misappropriation of cement and steel
1/17/2023 10:51:54 PM

Early Times Report

Jammu, Jan 17: Additional Sessions Judge Anti-Corruption Kathua, Kamlesh Pandit today directed the Anti Corruption Bureau Jammu to further investigate a case related to misappropriation for cement and steel.
The court directed the ACB to further investigate the case registered under FIR 20/2012 of ACB Jammu U/Ss 5(1) (c)(d) r/w section 5(2) of J&K Prevention of Corruption Act and u/s 467,468,471,120-B and 201 of RPC in which ACB booked then BDO and Store Keeper for misappropriation for cement and steel.
Additional Sessions Judge Kathua after hearing both the sides observed that in this case, the allegations against the main accused a storekeeper that he committed the misappropriation of 4364 cement bags and 12.97 quintal of steel amounting to Rs.9,21,735/ during his tenure between April 2001 to March 2006, - and the then BDO of the Block Barnoti, under whose supervision the main accused was working, facilitated and allowed him to fabricate the record by authenticating fake/double entry in the concerned register.
The allegations the then BDO per see are generalized as his tenure as BDO Barnoti between was between 05-10-2002 to 19-06-2004, so it is was impossible and impractical that he facilitated the misappropriation and criminal misconduct on behalf of the main accused beyond his tenure. While as during the tenure of the main accused there were two more BDOs who had discharged their duties during the check period of main accused person but those BDOs have not been implicated but cited as witnesses for the reason that they were instrumental in highlighting the mischief of the main accused (storekeeper) but no such document is on record that these two left out BDOs have written to the higher authorities about the pilferage in the government stock as BDO Barnoti but the letter dated 24-02-2006 which is part of the record on the basis of which recovery of Rs.3,27,980/- was recovered from the main accused suggests that the said letter was issued by the ACD Kathua on the directions by the then Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj of J&K Govt in which another person designated as Senior Assistant of the same BDO office Barnoti was also shown as defaulter of 1076 cement bags but prosecution is silent on the second defaulter.
It appears that the six investigating officers who conducted the investigation, did not bother to go deep into the surfaced facts in a professional way but they believed the statements of left out BDOs.
In this case I have also observed that the prosecution while coming into the conclusion that there were fake/double entry of the challan in the stock issuance register, which conclusion while going through the other part of the challan/charge sheet suggest that duplicate GRs were printed by the main accused (storekeeper) which alleged fact has been also highlighted by prosecution witnesses in their statements too but the so called six professional investigating officers have not ruled out the same, thus giving rights to reasonable suspicion regarding the investigation.
Also in this case I have observed that the prosecution has been able to seize only seven files out of total 71 work files for the reasons best known to the prosecution.
The prosecution highlighted the non-cooperation of the storekeeper but never resorted to the procedure of search and seizure provided under Criminal Procedure Code.
Also as per the record, there are proper indents with respect to most of the alleged fake/double entry challans but no investigation in this respect was conducted with respect to the concerned persons who made requisitions and approvals of the said indents. That the Audit report of the office of BDO Barnoti dated 08-06-2007 for the check period November 2002 to January 2007 was even not looked into during investigation wherein detailed siphoning ,irregularities, discrepancies and the loss of supervision of higher officers was highlighted.
Furthermore in this case the tabulations given under different schemes, given in the charge sheet, is also not strictly matching with the outcome of the investigation vis-a-vis cement bags/steel except double entry of the single challan.
It is settled law that fair investigation gives rise to fair trial. Therefore, in the given facts and circumstances and in the interest of justice, this court is of the view that the charge sheet does not disclose the complete factual position vis-a-vis complicity of the accused and other persons if any, into the misadventure. Consequently the charge sheet is, therefore ordered to be returned for further investigation/clarification in the light of the observations made hereinabove in the proceeding paras.
However, taking into account the time period that has lapsed already, it is directed that further investigation be completed within a period of three months positively. (JNF)
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