Rashid Paul

HC declines to quash FIR against sacked Cooperative Bank officials

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Srinagar May 27: The High Court on Wednesday declined to quash the FIR against the sacked chairman and other senior officers of the J&K Co-operative Bank for “fraudulently” sanctioning rupees 223 crores in favor of a “nonexistent” Co-operative Society.

The petitioner(s) including the Bank chairman M Shafi Dar wanted the court to exercise its inherent powers stemming from the provisions of Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

They prayed setting at naught and quashing the FIR no.04 of 2020 lodged against them on 8th of March 2020 by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

They also sought a direction to ACB restraining it from interfering with the management of the Bank and harassing the alleged officers.

Dismissing the petition justice Vinod Chatterji Koul opined that the writ petition is bereft of any merit and petitioners fail to make out a case for exercise of inherent powers under Section 482 Cr. P.C. to quash the FIR.

“The case is still under investigation and concerned agency is in the process of collecting evidence. The investigation is necessary and the same cannot be stopped, at this stage, in the proceedings under Section 482 Cr.P.C. As a sequel thereof, instant petition is dismissed”, ordered the judge.

The Srinagar headquartered Bank according to ACB had sanctioned an amount of Rs 223.00 crore fraudulently in favor of nonexistent Co-operative Society ‘River Jhelum Co-operative house Colony’ at Shivpora Srinagar run by Hilal Ahmad Mir of Magarmal Bagh.

According to the petitioner the Cooperative society approached the Bank for grant of loan for converting land measuring 257 Kanals 18 Marlas, situated at Shivpora, Srinagar, into a Satellite Township.

Petitioner claimed that the management of the Bank, including its  General Body and the Board of Management, was of the opinion that project was viable one and the Bank could earn huge amount by granting the loan. A gang of land mafia which had an eye on the land belonging to Kashmiri Padits, made anonymous representations with ACB on the alleged irregularities, it said.

Dismissing the petition the court said “while exercising powers under Section 482 of Cr. P.C., the Court, however, has to keep in mind that it should not ordinarily embark upon an enquiry whether evidence in question is reliable or not or whether on a reasonable appreciation of it, accusation would not be sustained. It said this was the function of Investigating Agency/Trial Court”.

“Though judicial process should not be an instrument of oppression or needless harassment but the Court should be circumspect and judicious in exercising discretion and should take all relevant facts and circumstances in consideration before issuing process under Section 482”,, it added.

The court further said that in the present case, the matter pending trial before the court below is at the infancy stage and therefore, need not be interfered with.

“Impugned FIR has been lodged on 8th March 2020. Investigation thereon has just commenced and petitioner has come up with petition on hand beseeching quashment of FIR when it is at its infancy stage”, said the court.

No report as contemplated under the Code of Criminal Procedure has been submitted by concerned agency to the court empowered to take cognizance of the offences, it added.

It observed that section 482 Cr.P.C. saves inherent powers of the High Court and such a power can be exercised to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.

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