BOPEE Scam: HC Dismisses Peer’s Plea Against Jail Term, Bail

“His actions have not even spared the son of a truck driver who had made the grade, but was shown the exit on flimsy grounds.  He would have been aspiring to become a Doctor but in the need and greed of earning undue pecuniary gains on the part of (Peer), he, too, has not been spared.”

SRINAGAR — “The one who harms an innocent person is no man, but a wolf; keep away from him,” Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday quoted a passage from Righveda, the oldest of the books of Hinduism as it dismissed a petition by Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, the former chairman of BOPEE who was sentenced in April this year to 16 years in jail and fined Rs one crore by an anti-corruption court after a full-fledged trial for engineering 2012 Common Entrance Test scam.    

The court also quoted passage from ‘Etherveda that “we must destroy, completely crush and burn to ashes those wicked persons who are bent upon eliminating such brave men who fight and vanquish the cruel animal.” 

“The need to quote the above is felt in view of the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case on hand, where it is proved, after a full-fledged trial, that (Peer) in the capacity of the Chairman, BOPEE, violated the trust of the brilliant brains with impunity for the lust of money which depicts that human greed knows no limits,” said a bench of Justice M K Hanjura. 

Observing that the law on the subject was limpid and lucid, the court said that conviction of a public servant, convicted in corruption cases, cannot be suspended just on the asking of it, “as doing so will have adverse impact on the public interest.”

“Corruption undermines the human rights and indirectly violates them. It is only if the Court feels satisfied that a case has, in fact, been made out that the conviction can be suspended. It is only in exceptional cases that a conviction can be put in abeyance alongwith the sentence,” the court added.

The offences committed by Peer, the court said, have a serious adverse impact on the fabric of the society. “His actions have not even spared the son of a truck driver who had made the grade, but was shown the exit on flimsy grounds.  He would have been aspiring to become a Doctor but in the need and greed of earning undue pecuniary gains on the part of (Peer), he, too, has not been spared,” the court said and found that it was not a fit case where the judgment dated 25 April passed by the Court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption Srinagar can be stayed and the sentence recorded against Peer suspended.

The court announced the verdict 23 days after it reserved the petition by Peer, seeking suspension of the sentence and his release on bail on the ground that that he was 70 years of age and was suffering from many ailments. Peer is lodged in the Central Jail Srinagar and had contended that during the period, his health has deteriorated to a great extent due to mental agony and trauma, through which he has undergone, and he needs constant medical care.

The trial court had sentenced Peer to seven years of rigorous imprisonment under section 420 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), five years of imprisonment under section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, three years of imprisonment under section 409 of the RPC and one year of imprisonment under section 120B of the RPC. It has ordered that all the sentences would run “consecutively”.

The court had convicted 43 accused, including Peer, in the case, while it acquitted seven others.

In its 382-page order, the court had said, “Mushtaq Peer, being at the helm of affairs as chairman of the board, occupied the top position, which he had abused to the fullest by orchestrating the criminal conspiracy for putting on sale the question papers, the secrecy of which he was under obligation to maintain.

“This dastardly crime is his brainchild and it would not have been possible for others to have even a glimpse of the question papers had he not defied the state….”

It had observed that scams like these contributed to the large-scale brain drain from the state and other law-and-order problems and said, “Therefore, this accused deserves no leniency at all.”

Peer was arrested on 23 November 2014 by the Crime Branch. During the investigation, it had come to light that Peer, in connivance with the other accused, one of whom (Farooq Ahmad Itoo) who turned to be an approver had sold the CET 2012 examination papers, along with the answer keys to some candidates for Rs 60 lakh.

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