Valley News Desk

SRINAGAR: Justice Sanjay Dhar rejected bail application of Hilal Ahmad Mir, the Chairman of non-existent River Jhelum Co-operative House Building Society in Rs 223 crore scam case.

The ACB registered a case against Mohammad Shafi Dar, the then chairman of J&K State Cooperative Bank Limited (JKSTCB) and others under various sections of prevention of corruption act for allegedly sanctioning a loan amounting to Rs 250 crore in favour of a non-existent society for construction of a satellite township at Shivpora locality in Srinagar, by-passing credit policy of the bank and on basis of false and fabricated documents.

The ACB investigation revealed that a conspiracy was hatched between Dar, Mir, Hajam, Mohd Mujib Ur Rehman Ghasi, the then Registrar of Cooperative Societies J&K, Syed Ashiq Hussain, Deputy Registrar Cooperative Societies and others by creating a fake society in 2018-19 in order to obtain a loan from the bank. Mir then approached Secretary to Government Cooperative Department Abdul Majid Bhat through medium of an application on January 10, 2018 wherein directions were sought from J&K Cooperative Department to J&K State Cooperative Bank Ltd Srinagar for grant of financial assistance (loan advance) to the tune of Rs 300 crore for construction of a satellite township. The application of Mir was approved and forwarded to Chairman of J&K Cooperative Bank, Srinagar by Ghasi for the sanction of loan.

“Chairman of the state cooperative bank in conspiracy with the borrower Hilal Ahmad and others has sanctioned the loan amount of Rs 250 crore in favour of aforesaid fictitious society and out of that Rs 223 crore was released. The investigation further established that the loan was approved by the then chairman of the bank on basis of false and forged documents by violating the banking rules and regulations and thereby causing a loss of Rs 223 crore plus interest till date to J&K government exchequer and to J&K cooperative bank and public at large,” he said.

The amount was raised by the bank as loan on FDRs of JKSTCB Srinagar with J&K Bank. The entire loan amount was transferred into the account Mir from where it was transferred through RTGS/NEFT into accounts of 18 people who are merely presumed to be shareholders/ legal heirs of land measuring nearly 13 hectare in Shivpora.

Justice Sanjay Dhar, after hearing both the sides, observed that allegations against the petitioners are very serious in nature and some of the offences disclosed against the petitioner carry punishment of imprisonment up to 10 years. “If the prosecution case is to be believed, Mir along with Mohammad Shafi Dar, the then Chairman of the Bank, are kingpins of the alleged conspiracy. It is a case wherein petitioner along with other co-conspirators has defrauded JKSCBL by a huge amount of Rs.223 crore and at this stage it cannot be stated that allegations against the petitioner are without any substance. It is a settled law that at the time of consideration of bail application, it is neither necessary nor desirable to have an in-depth analysis of material on record. Therefore, I would desist from expressing my opinion on the merits of the allegations made in charge-sheet against petitioner lest it may prejudice his case before trial court at the time of framing of charge or during any other proceedings,” he observed.

While rejecting the bail plea, Justice Sanjay Dhar further observed that the petitioner cannot be released on bail at this stage. Anti-Corruption Bureau is, however, directed to complete investigation and file the supplementary charge sheet as early as possible, preferably within a period of one month from today, after which petitioner shall be at liberty to move the trial court and if any such application is filed, the trial court is free to consider application independently on its own merits without being influenced by dismissal of the petition.