A Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court on Thursday directed the Union Territory Government to file a status report on the infamous fake gun license scam within two weeks.
The scam involving several senior bureaucrats of the erstwhile state of J&K was discussed before the Division Bench of the High Court of J&K and Ladakh comprising Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice M.A. Chowdhary.
Advocate S S Ahmed appearing for the petitioners pointed out that the Jammu and Kashmir Government has failed to file the latest Status Report of the prosecution sanctions as directed by the Division Bench on June 2nd, 2023.
This much-publicized PIL seeking directions to the Union Government and Government of J&K to accord prosecution sanction in corruption cases including arms license scam involving senior IAS/JKAS officers, came up for hearing through virtual mode.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed with Advocate Rahul Raina invited the attention of the Division Bench towards the latest order when the Division Bench looked into the seriousness of the matter and directed the J&K Government to file the latest status report.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed argued that almost three months have elapsed but the government did not deem it proper to comply with the directions of the Court in a multi-crore arms license scam.
He further submitted that sanction with regard to JKAS officers has already been granted and with regard to IAS Officers, the government is showing a soft corner and not re-submitting the prosecution sanction proposal.
Court expresses surprise over non-filing of status report
The Division Bench expressed concern and surprise over the non-filing of the latest status report with regard to two CBI FIRs bearing FIR Nos. RCCHG051201850006 and RCCHG05120185007 by the Jammu and Kashmir Government in a matter of wide public importance.
At this stage, two senior additional advocates general appearing for the government prayed for two weeks further time to comply with the directions issued by the Division Bench on June 2, 2023.
The Division Bench after hearing both sides observed and directed, "Needful in terms of order dated 02.06.2023 has not been done. Two weeks further time is granted to the respondents for doing the needful".
Scam exposed by Rajasthan ATS, Madhya Pradesh Police
The Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) and Madhya Pradesh Police had unearthed the scam in 2017 and had arrested over 50 people for their alleged involvement in the illegal issuance of arms licenses. According to Rajasthan ATS, over 3,000 permits were granted allegedly in the names of Army personnel.
Rajasthan ATS and Madhya Pradesh Police had found that at least 40,000 licenses were issued in J&K and a majority of them were found to be fake by investigators of both states.
Case handed over to CBI in 2018
Based on the findings of Rajasthan ATS and Madhya Pradesh Police, the then Governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, N N Vohra had handed over the matter to CBI for a thorough probe.
After taking over the case, the CBI had carried out searches at 17 places including the premises of two senior IAS officers in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.
It is alleged that more than 2.78 lakh arms licenses were issued to non-entitled persons from 2013 to 2016. CBI also collected documents about the issuance of said armed licenses allegedly spread over 22 districts of the erstwhile state of J&K.