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HC Peeved by Slow Police Probe Into Burning of Schools

Says It’s Not About Property But Crime Against Society; Also Seeks Explanation For Planning Deptt


Srinagar—Observing that burning of schools was a crime against society and not about property, the Jammu and Kashmir High court on Wednesday expressed its dismay over “slow pace” of investigation by police and asked the DGP to expedite it so that culprits are punished.

“Burning of schools is not only a crime with regard to property but is a crime against society and against the people of the Valley and this cannot be allowed to be left uninvestigated and not taken to the logical conclusion of catching the perpetrators and punishing them,” a division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey after perusal of a status regarding the cases registered on the burning down of schools last year.

“We find that out of 49 FIRs which have been registered, challans have been presented only in respect of 4. In other words, only 2% of the cases have completed investigations,” the court said.

Four cases regarding the burning of schools have been closed by the police as accidental.

“They also represent only 2% of the total number of the FIRs. In other words, insofar as 96% of the FIRs, the cases are either under investigation or have been denoted as untraced. These events have taken place almost a year ago and the progress of investigation in these cases is highly unsatisfactory,” the court said, adding, “The investigations are moving at a very slow pace and therefore the same be brought to the notice of the Director General of Police so that the investigations are expedited and taken to the logical conclusions.” The court directed government to file a fresh status report within four weeks.

On reconstruction of the burnt schools, the noted on July 8 this year, Detailed Project Reports were forwarded to the Secretary to the Government, School Education Department.

“That was pursuant to our order dated 05 July 2017. It is also noted in the order of August 10 that the Secretary to the Government, School Education Department, had forwarded the DPRs to the Commissioner Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department, on August 4. Consequently, we (had) directed the Commissioner Secretary to expedite the process and clear the same within two weeks, i.e. by august 24. We also expected that the entire process would be through within four weeks from August 10. Unfortunately, the Planning Development and Monitoring Department gave its in-principle agreement for providing the necessary funds only on September 7, i.e. much beyond the period of two weeks which we had stipulated,” the court observed, adding, “ Although the approval has come, it was beyond the time granted by the Court. Consequently, the court directed the Commissioner Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department, to file within a week to file an affidavit, explaining as to why the time period of two weeks was not complied with.

“We had also indicated our expectations that the entire process would be through within four weeks. That period has expired. The accord of administrative approval and the sanction from the Education and Finance Departments respectively has also not been realized as yet. We, therefore, direct that the processes be completed within three weeks from today,” the court said and directed

the Commissioner Secretaries of School Education and Finance departments to ensure compliance with the time line.

“The object being that the funds should be ready for release and the work and process of award of work shall commence not later than the end of the period of three weeks from today,” the court said.

Additional advocate General, B A Dar also informed the court that all the conditions stipulated in the letter of September 9, the Planning Development and Monitoring Department has in-principle agreement agreed to provide necessary funds. He stated that the updated status report regarding the schools which falls under the District Plan was under preparation and requested that he may be permitted to file the same before the next date of hearing. “The same be done positively before the next date of hearing,” the court said.

B A Dar also requested that he may be granted some time to submit the norms, for the State of Jammu and Kashmir regarding infrastructure and other facilities, which are to be made available in Government schools throughout the State in all tiers of education—primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary. “The status report that he files would also indicate the norms which private schools are required to fulfill before they are recognized by the Education Department,” the court said, adding, “As pointed out earlier, the report is also required for indicating as to how many schools are in compliance with the norms and, in how many schools there are deficiencies and what is being done to remedy those deficiencies.”

 

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