Cricket Fund Scam: HC Orders CBI Probe, Says State Institutions Lack Credibility

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SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Thursday ordered a CBI probe into the multi-crore scam in the state’s cricket association. The court cited the lack of credibility of the state investigation agency, the huge quantum of monies involved and the alleged  involvement of power people in the scam as the major reasons for referring the case to the CBI.

A division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat, pronounced the order on a PIL filed by two cricketers Majid Yaqoob Dar and Nissar Ahmad Khan into the scam in Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) that had surfaced in 2012.

The bench had on August 25 reserved its order on whether to hand over to crime branch or any other agency the investigation into the alleged embezzlement of over Rs 113 crore funds in the cricket association, which was headed by former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah at that time.

The alleged scam was being investigated by a special investigation team of police, which failed to conclude the probe for nearly three years.

With National Conference patron and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah as accused, the alleged scam was investigated by a special investigation of police and after about three years, it has failed to conclude it.

“Having regard for the quantum and magnitude of the scam involving huge loss of public money and failure of State investigating agency to conduct the investigation with speed, fairness and objectivity and given the inordinate delay in concluding the investigation coupled with lack of credibility in the State Investigating Agency and also taking into consideration the serious allegations made against the, beneficiaries involved including the influential and mighty, we are of the considered opinion that it is a fit case where the investigation must be handed over to CBI for purposes of a fair and result oriented investigation. We order accordingly,” a division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasathakumar and Justice B L Bhat said and directed the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, to take over the investigation in and bring it to logical conclusion, as expeditiously as possible, preferably within six months.

The state government has already stated that it has no objection if the probe was handed over to some other agency.

“We are not averse to if the investigation is handed over to any other agency. We have no objection (to Crime Branch probe),” Additional Advocate General had informed the division bench on previous date of hearing in the case.

On 10 March 2012, the police had registered a case (FIR 27/2012) following a complaint from then chairman JKCA, Mohammad Aslam Goni, who alleged that as per the report of then treasurer, bogus accounts on JKCA funds have been operated in the various J&K Bank by the ex-general secretary and then treasurer under their joint signatures. Goni had also alleged misappropriation of funds.

The court passed the direction on a Public Interest Litigation filed last year by the two former cricketers— Majid Yaqoob Dar (a former Ranji Trophy player) and Nissar Ahmad Khan (a club level cricketer).

The petitioners apart from high-level investigation seek directions for recovery of funds swindled and “used by JKCA’s so-called office bearers for their personal use.”

They had sought directions from the court to remove office bearers of JKCA who according to them have got themselves elected on May 12, 2014 “fraudulently and dishonestly.”

 The bench also observed that”Our only doubt is whether the crime branch can go to BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) from where funds are flowing and make investigation there (BCCI headquarters, Mumbai) or some central agency is to be involved,” the bench had observed during the last hearing.

The JKCA was in the midst of another controversy in July when a rebel members’ group sought to end Abdullah’s 35-year-old rule as the president of the association by electing PDP leader and Sports Minister Imran Reza Ansari as its new chief. The Abdullah-led faction has challenged the elections in the court.

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