by Sabreen Ashraf
SRINAGAR: The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) has acquitted all the minors who were accused in the 2012 question paper leak scam that rocked the Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE).
After hearing prosecution and defence counsel, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) in Srinagar, presided over by Principal Magistrate Touseef Ahmad Magray and members, Dr Khair-ul-Nissa and Dr Asima Hassan, said that nothing incriminating was brought to light against the JCL.
The case was charged in 2014, and JCL, a young girl, was found not guilty after a seven-year trial. The juveniles were represented by advocates Dar Khurshid and Abid Malla. Jammu and Kashmir’s Crime Branch had investigated the case after the question papers of CET-2012 were leaked and circulated for monetary gains. The minors were students who had somehow accessed the question papers.
The court observed that out of 32 (thirty-two) listed witnesses prosecution produced only 11 (eleven) witnesses. “However, they have deposed nothing incriminating against JCL before this Board. Therefore, the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the case against the JCL herein,” reads the Court order. “The examination of JCL under Section 342 CrPC (power of the court to examine the accused with respect to incriminating evidence) is dispensed with.”
The jury in its ruling said, “Juvenile in Conflict with Law is consequently acquitted of all counts relating to the commission of offences under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and Section 420, read with 120-B RPC.” According to the court, the bail and surety bonds granted on behalf of the JCL have been nullified and discharged.
“Any seizure must be released to the legitimate claimant.” If the seizure is not worth releasing, the board’s Additional Public Prosecutor will dispose of it. The charge sheet is discarded, and it will be consigned to the record after proper compilation,” the court stated.
In the sensational BOPEE scam, this is the third and final acquittal of a minor. The JJB previously acquitted five juveniles. The Juvenile Justice Board, led by Touseef Ahmad Magray, tried six juveniles, while Srinagar’s Special Anti-Corruption Court tried the other 54.
On April 28, 2022, Mushtaq Ahmad Peer, the former chairman of the Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE), was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The middleman between Peer and students, Sajad Ahmad Bhat, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a fine of Rs 50 lakh was imposed on him by the Special Anti-Corruption Court in Srinagar.
The Special Anti-Corruption Court in Srinagar found 46 of the 54 defendants guilty in the case in 2018, out of which eight were acquitted.
Students and their parents were among the detainees, who were sentenced to one to six years in prison.
Six students, however, who were under the age of eighteen, were tried in front of JJB. However, with the latest decision, all of the children are free to leave.
(Photograph used in the report is not linked to it. It is merely representational)