Srinagar: More than a year after Jammu and Kashmir Anti-Corruption Bureau (JKACB) began its investigation into multi-crore embezzlement and illegal appointment case against former JK State Cooperative Bank chairman Mohmmad Shafi Dar, the aspirants who ‘couldn’t make it to the posts’ have sought a thorough investigation into the matter.
Dar was arrested in Srinagar in connection with his involvement in the 223-crore land scam involving the JK State Co-operative Bank and appointing around 62 people, most of them his relatives, illegally in the bank.
However, the former Chairman was later released on bail in December 2020 but is under investigation for the case of illegal appointments of candidates for bank posts since 2012 and embezzlement of money.
The setback has surrounded the emotions of the dropped candidates whose last and only hope is the investigation team now.
They strive for answers on how this nepotism breathes in the bank and why there is no action by now.
“The merit was neglected while selection,” one of the dropped candidates told Free Press Kashmir, adding “they have done much better than people who are on the posts now”.
“The results which were uploaded on the bank websites look like bogus marks of candidates,” said another aspirant.
The aspirants believe that the bank has been biased regarding the selection and focused much on ‘insiders’.
“The people who were selected for the posts are from the radius of former Chairman’s domain,” the aspirants told Free Press Kashmir, adding, they performed well in exams and viva too but were unable to find themselves in the list.
Seeking the answer sheets to be revealed to the investigation team for re-evaluation, the aspirants said that the re-checking of the answer sheets can help in clearing the doubts.
Some of the candidates have even filed RTIs to seek information regarding the selection process but failed to get any detail.
“Few of us have also moved to court and are fighting the case there,” said one aspirant.
The candidates believe that those who appeared in the examinations have come from poor families and are dependent only on their merits.
“We find ourselves in a very painful situation right now as discrimination under the hands of power is being done on us,” the aspirant said, hoping the investigation is over soon and justice is delivered to the deserving candidates.
Earlier, the Director of the investigation agency, Anand Jain, ensured that the investigation will be completed soon and the results will be declared publicly.
Notably, on May 14, 2020, the sleuths of ACB arrested the chairman of Jhelum Co-operative House Building Society (JCHBS) Hilal Ahmed Mir in connection with the multi-crore scam.
Mohmmad Shafi Dar, evading arrest since the registration of the case, was arrested on June 3, 2020, and taken into custody.
In September 2020, as the investigation agency began its inquiry, it asked the bank for information from the head office of the bank about employees who were recruited from 2012.
ACB also ordered the bank to submit affidavits of employees from 2012, to get information about the employees who had been in touch with any of the bank officers.
A preliminary inquiry was conducted by the ACB on the allegations that Dar in connivance with the officials and beneficiary of a non-existent co-operative house building society had sanctioned an amount of Rs 223 crore fraudulently in favour of the said society under the name and style of “River Jhelum Co-operative House Colony at Shivpora Srinagar” run by Mir of Magarmal Bagh Srinagar.
The investigation revealed that the chairman of JCHBS had moved an application to the secretary, Cooperatives, Administration Department of Co-operative Societies, in which he sought directions to the JK Co-operative Bank Limited for grant of financial assistance to the tune of Rs 300 crore for taking over possession of 300 kanals of land located on the outskirts of Srinagar for construction of a satellite township, the investigation revealed.
Later, the application was endorsed to the registrar of Cooperative Societies, JK, for taking up the matter with the Jammu and Kashmir State Co-operative Bank.
Accordingly, the JK Co-operative Bank, Srinagar, sanctioned a loan to the tune of Rs 223 crore without adhering to any codal formalities like obtaining the details of the society such as its balance sheet, profit and loss account business, activities being done by it, income tax returns and details of construction of the board resolutions, the investigation report said.
During inquiry, it also surfaced that the River Jhelum Co-operative House Building Society has not even been registered with the Co-operative Societies, JK.
“The accused (Mir), by acting in league with the chairman of the J&K Co-operative Bank, Srinagar and others, had prepared a fake and fictitious registration certificate in the name of the society and managed the sanction of loan to the amount of Rs 223 crores,” the ACB officials had said.
They said the omission and commission on the part of the chairman of the JK State Co-operative Bank and others, in conspiracy with Mir, constitute offenses under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code and resulted in a loss of Rs 223 crores to the bank. Accordingly, a case was registered and investigation taken up, he said.
Accused Mir had managed to get issued a fake and fictitious registration certificate bearing registration March 31st of 1994 and on the basis of that certificate, a loan to the tune of Rs 223 crore was sanctioned in favour of the non-existent society without adhering to the codal formalities and without any proper security.
The loan amount was disbursed into the accounts of the landowners but the land has not been mortgaged to the bank, he said.
Further, the investigation conducted by the bureau has been successful in unearthing the siphoned out funds to the tune of Rs 223 crore and an amount to the tune of Rs 187 crore has been frozen by the ACB, the official statement revealed.
Mir was arrested on May 14, 2020, to affect the recovery of documents required in the case which are purportedly lying in his possession and also to unearth the modus operandi, and the end-use of funds and quid pro quo, if any obtained.
On December 17, 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court granted bail to Dar and observed that his presence in custody may not be necessary for further investigation as the prosecution has produced the charge sheet as well as supplementary charge sheet after the investigation against the accused.
A bench of Justice Sindhu Sharma granted bail to the former JK Cooperative Bank chairman after hearing his counsel Tasaduq Khawja and the government through its senior additional advocate general, B A Dar.
Pointing out that the prosecution has also stated that much of the amount has been paid to the owners of the land, the court had observed. “It is also admitted that the owners have executed Power of Attorney on the basis of which lease has been granted in favour of Secretary of the Society.”
While granting the bail, the court has imposed certain conditions, asking Dar to cooperate with the investigation as and when required and not hamper or tamper with the prosecution witnesses or evidence.
The court also asked him to appear before the trial court on each and every date of hearing unless exempted by the Court concerned and that he shall not leave the territorial jurisdiction of the Court without prior permission.
The former Banker was granted bail against personal as well as a surety bond to the tune of Rs 50,000 each to the satisfaction of the Registrar Judicial of the Court.
The ACB had registered an FIR number 04/2020 on March 8, this year, under sections of 465, 467, 468, 471, 120-B RPC and section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Chairman of the Society, Hilal Ahmad Mir as well the former Chairman JK Cooperative Bank, Muhammad Shafi Dar and others for causing a loss of Rs 223 crore to the bank.
The court in its order observed that on September 8, 2019, on receipt of the application, the governing council of the Bank approved a grant of a loan of Rs 250 crores in favour of the Society.
Thereafter, the sanction of the loan was ratified by the Board of Directors on March 21, 2019.
After the Board ratified the decision, the former Chairman disbursed the loan of Rs 223 Crores on 25 April 2019, the court had observed.