Shimla: Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday in a matter pertaining to wrongful and illegal disbursement and misappropriation of Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme to Scheduled Caste (SC), ST (Scheduled Tribe) and (Other Backward Classes) OBC students, under Centrally Sponsored Scheme, has granted one more opportunity to CBI to expeditiously complete the investigation and file the charge sheets before the Court of competent jurisdiction.

The Court has directed CBI to file a Fresh Status Report on April 20.

The court expressed anguish that despite a lapse of six months, not even a single charge sheet has been filed by the CBI. The counsel for CBI tried to justify such a position by contending that CBI has recorded the statements of 214 witnesses, but the Court was not satisfied by such justification for not completing the investigation within a huge period of six months.

CBI on Monday submitted the seventh Status Report to the High Court in the matter. As per the Status Report, the investigation carried out by CBI reveals the involvement of 1176 institutions.

Out of 266 private institutions, 28 have been found involved in the alleged scam of scholarship amounts. Counsel appearing on behalf of CBI contended that the investigation against 11 institutions has already been completed and charge sheets have been filed.

The investigation against 17 institutions is still in progress. The court observed that the same was the situation when this matter was listed before the Court on October 20, 2021.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed this order on a writ petition filed by petitioner Shyam Lal of District Bilaspur. 

The petitioner has alleged that one Mr Shakti Bhushan, State Project Officer (SPM NIU Shimla), who was appointed by the State Government and Education Department to investigate the matter of misappropriation of the financial scholarships under Centrally Sponsored Post Matric Scholarships Scheme for the students belonging to SC, ST and OBC, after conducting the inquiry, lodged an FIR in the year 2018, under the directions of Secretary (Education).

The petitioner has further alleged that the inquiry report revealed that a huge sum of scholarship money was misappropriated and apart from the educational institutions within the State, scores of other educational institutions stationed in the other States of India, were also involved in this scam.

 Consequently, the matter was handed over to the CBI for a proper and thorough investigation by the State.

 The petitioner has also stated that he is alarmed and concerned with the approach adopted by the CBI, in the investigation of this matter as the same is not investigating all the errant institutions, but it is investigating 22, out of more than 2772 errant institutions that were found to be amiss and were named in the Preliminary Investigation Report of Sh. Shakti Bhushan.

The petitioner has prayed to direct the State Government to hand over a complete investigation of all cases and institutions, relating to wrongful and illegal disbursement and misappropriation of the Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme to SC, ST and OBC students to CBI.

The petitioner has further prayed to direct CBI to investigate all institutions named by Shakti Bhushan and thereafter to bring such investigations to the logical conclusion by filing criminal cases against all the errant institutions named in the list without any exception.

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Navneet Rathore is a Shimla based journalist having two-years of experience in the field of journalism. Navneet is a post-graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and is specialised in crime, education, health, environment, agriculture and Horticulture beats.