SEVERAL trucks carrying over 26,000 quintals of foodgrain for public distribution allegedly disappeared and a CBI investigation into the scam has been halted following a stay from the Srinagar bench of Jammu & Kashmir High Court.
Last September, the CBI’s Srinagar unit filed an FIR against officials of the Food Corporation of India, private transporters and private depot managers for a “detailed investigation” into the alleged embezzlement of foodgrain through forgery of documents.
According to the FIR, 130 trucks left over a period of months from FCI depots at Bhogpur and Kartarpur in Jalandhar (Punjab) carrying rice and wheat for storing at a private depot run on behalf of the FCI at Baramulla in J&K. The stocks crossed Lower Munda check-post near Qazigund but never reached the Baramulla depot for unloading.
An enquiry by FCI had allegedly found that the stamp affixed on the challan at Lower Munda Road toll post were “fake” and the stocks had been “misappropriated” by transporters in collusion with FCI staff, state government officials and the private depot owner before reaching the toll post.
Instead, fictitious challan numbers with duplicate stamps and wrong register numbers were entered at the toll post, according to the FCI investigation.
The FCI in August handed the case to the CBI as foodgrain stocks were owned by the Central government and since it was an “open and shut case of forgery as well as criminal misappropriation” by Central government employees of FCI, private parties and state officials.
A month later, the CBI registered a regular case of criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct but before it could proceed with raids and arrests, it was stopped by the Srinagar bench following a petition from Punjab-based transporters that the CBI did not have jurisdiction in the J&K state.
The single judge on October 13 stayed the operation of FIR No. RC 123/2017/A0003 until the next hearing scheduled for October 27. That day, the case did not come up for a hearing.
CBI sources say that many cases are held up in J&K High Court even though a Central government notification of 1964 authorises the agency to investigate offences punishable under the state’s Ranbir Penal Code. It was issued after obtaining the state government’s consent in December 1963.