Srinagar: High Court of J&K and Ladakh has stayed the investigation in an FIR (04/2020) registered by the Anticorruption Bureau ( ACB) against Chairman Urban Cooperative Bank Ltd for allegedly appointing ineligible persons against various vacancies in the Bank.
While seeking a government response by June 3 to the plea filed by Chairman Urban Cooperative Bank Ltd, Ghulam Nabi Shah, a bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar said: “In the meanwhile, the investigation in the impugned FIR shall stay”.
The contention of the ACB is that the petitioner while discharging his functions as a Chairman of Cooperative Society namely “The Urban Cooperative Bank Ltd, Anantnag” has without following a procedure appointed ineligible persons against various vacancies.
It is alleged that the appointments in respect of such persons have been made in respect of various Class-IV positions.
While the FIR indicates that the appointments have been approved by the Board of Directors of the Society without following any procedure and in violation of Rules and regulations, it underlines that the appointments were initially made on a temporary basis and consequently regularized during 2010-2013 by the Board of Management.
Shah through senior advocate Faisal Qadri has approached the court with the contention that he as Chairman Cooperative Society does not fall within the definition of the ‘public servant’ as provided in the Prevention of Corruption Act as such the registration of FIR against him is not in tune with the law.
He contends that the operations, management, and running of day today affairs of the Cooperative Society is required to be undertaken in accordance with the Byelaws framed.
“The functioning of the Society is to be regulated by a Board of Directors who are empowered to take decisions relating to various issues including appointments etc”
The petitioner further contends that in the instant case after advertisement was issued by him, the appointments were made by the Board of Directors after inviting applications from the eligible candidates.The selection, the petitioner says, was made on temporary basis which was within his domain and the Board of Directors. “ The same was thereafter ratified by the General Body during the annual General Meetings. Therefore, the allegations about the appointment being without following a procedure is completely bereft of any authority”.
The petitioner submits that in terms of the Cooperative Societies Act and more particularly Section 2 (q) of the same, the officer is defined as a President, Vice President, Chairman, Vice Chairman etc of a Cooperative Society”
He submits that he would not fall within the definition of a Public Servant as prescribed under law. “Once, the Officer of a cooperative Society would not fall under the stated definition, the initiation of a criminal proceedings under Prevention of Corruption Act would be totally unjustified and illegal”,
Citing The judgment of the Supreme Court in case titled State of Maharashtra V. Laljit Rajshi Shah and Ors (2000), the senior counsel said the registration of the FIR against the petitioner was not in accordance with law.
After hearing counsel for the petitioner and perusing the material on record, the court said a case for grant of interim indulgence was made out. The court stayed the investigation in the FIR and issued notice to Senior Superintendent of Police, Police Station Anti-Corruption Bureau Anantnag through Asifa Padroo for the response.
In his plea Shah has challenged the FIR bearing No.04/2020 registered at Police Station Anti Corruption Bureau Anantnag under Section 5(1)(d) read with 5(2) of Jammu & Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act, 120-B RPC.