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Allahabad High Court directs CBI to investigate allegations of fake admissions and bribery in Ayurvedic Medical College of State

The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has directed the CBI to investigate the allegations of fake admissions and bribery in Ayurvedic Medical College of the state.

The Court has also granted bail to Ayurveda College Director Dr Ritu Garg.

A Single Bench of Justice Rajeev Singh passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Bail Application filed by Dr Ritu Garg.

The Bail application has been filed by the applicant in F.I.R under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B IPC and Section 66D IT Act, Police Station Hazratganj, District Lucknow with the prayer to enlarge her on bail.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that the applicant is a renowned lady doctor, who completed her M.B.B.S and M.D. from the Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Varanasi and is running Ritu Diagnostic Centre since last 23 years.

The applicant is also providing free medical treatments to the needy persons in Santushti Ayurvedic Medical College and Hospital, Chunar, District Mirzapur.

Submission of the counsel for the applicant is that the applicant has falsely been implicated in the case and she is in jail since 28.02.2023.

Counsel for the applicant further submitted that as per the prosecution case, the State Government issued a Government Order dated 10th December, 2021 for online counselling of NEET 2021 Examination in relation to Ayush Department (Ayurveda, Unani and Homoeopathy) colleges for the courses of BAMS/BUMS/BHMS for the academic Session 2021-22. The aforesaid Government Order, while providing the procedure for allotment of colleges to the students through online counselling, constituted a Board for the purpose.

Apart from the aforesaid members, one member each was to be nominated by Director, Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy and one member was to be nominated from the private Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy College from the category of minority.

It has further been submitted that the Ayush Department decided to conduct the said online counselling through private vendor, which is acquainted with the online counselling and M/s Uptron Powertronics Ltd (Uptron Company), which is a State undertaking company requested the State Government for providing the work of online counselling for the NEET 2021 examination.

Thereafter, on 7th December, 2021, a letter was issued by Shailendra Kumar, Joint Secretary addressed to Director Ayush Services, U.P, Lucknow, informing that Uptron Company has been nominated for online counselling of NEET 2021 examination for the academic year 2021-22 for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

However, as per prosecution case, the Uptron Company engaged another firm, i.e, V-3 Soft Solution Pvt Ltd, Second Floor, NewBerry Road, Lucknow, U.P as vendor vide its letter dated 15th January, 2022. Thereafter, final order was issued to the vendor firm, M/s V-3 Soft Solution by the Uptron Company for performing the online counselling of the aforesaid courses, but the said Company entered into agreement with another company, i.e, M/s Techno Ocean IT Solution Pvt Ltd on payment of share of 97%.

It is further alleged in the F.I.R that the result of NEET 2020-21 was asked by the Director, Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy, U.P from the Director General Medical Education, U.P (DGME), which was handed over in the hard disc to Dr. Umakant (Officer-in-charge, Education), who was the representative of Director, Ayush Department.

As per prosecution case, Kuldeep Singh Verma, who was the agent of the vendor Company, copied the data from the hard disc for facilitating online counselling services. Thereafter, the counselling was conducted. However, on some complaint, the matter was inquired, in which, it was found that in place of online counselling, the counselling was done offline and the names of 22 such candidates, who never appeared in the NEET examination, were entered in the list of selected students.

It was also found that the identity of 1181 students were changed and the colleges were allotted to 891 ineligible students, who also got admission for the aforesaid courses.

Submission of the Senior Counsel appearing for the applicant is that there is no evidence against the applicant that she interpolated the result of NEET 2021, which was provided by the DGME.

He further submitted that the allegation against the applicant is that only with the intention to fulfil all the seats in her college, she adopted tactics by digital advertisement and also engaging brokers for the admission of students in her college.

It has lastly been submitted that custodial investigation is not needed and, therefore, the applicant, who is a lady having no criminal antecedent and is in jail since 28.02.2023, is entitled for bail. The applicant will never misuse the liberty of bail and shall fully cooperate in the trial.

On the other hand, A.G.A opposed the prayer of the applicant and on the basis of instructions provided by Sanjiv Dixit, Deputy Superintendent of Police, STF/Investigating Officer of the case in question, submitted that it is a huge scam, in which, 891 ineligible students were allowed to get admission through counselling in different colleges, including the Government colleges as well as private colleges, out of which, 76 students were allotted the college of the applicant by the Counselling Board with the conspiracy of the applicant.

“It is evident from the record that for NEET 2021 examination, counselling for the courses of BAMS/ BUMS/ BHMS was to be conducted, for which, the State Government issued a Government Order mentioning the procedure as well as constituting the Board.

It is further evident that the Uptron company, which is a State undertaking, requested for allowing it to conduct the NEET 2021 counselling on which, on 07.12.2021, a Government Order was issued by Shailendra Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Ayush, Government of U.P addressed to Director, Ayurvedic Services, U.P, Lucknow informing that Uptron company is authorised to conduct the online counselling for admission in UG and PG courses for the academic session 2021-22.

Though, in the letter dated 07.12.2021 (supra), there was no provision that Uptron Company will engage some other Company for the aforesaid online counselling, the Uptron company engaged another company, i.e, V-3 Soft Solution Pvt Ltd, which in turn, executed agreement with other company for the purpose, i.e, M/s Techno Ocean IT Solution Pvt Ltd Surprisingly, in place of conducting online counselling, it was conducted offline, which was not provided in the Government Order.

From the record, it is further evident that the interest of the private colleges was to get admission of the students in their colleges and that their seats should not fall vacant for the academic year. However, there is no such evidence in the entire record, including the case diary that the involvement of the applicant was found in the interpolation of the result of DGME or for conducting the counselling offline, and as per the prosecution case, the only charge, which is alleged against the applicant is of conspiracy. Further, indisputably the applicant appeared on the date fixed in the notice issued under Section 160 Cr.P.C and there is no evidence that now her custodial interrogation is necessary”, the Court observed.

In view of the above facts, the Court is of the view that the applicant is entitled to be released on bail.

The Court ordered that,

Let applicant -Dr Ritu Garg be released on bail in F.I.R, on her furnishing personal bond and two reliable sureties each of the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned subject to following conditions:-

(i) The applicant shall not commit an offence similar to the offence of which she is accused, or suspected, of the commission of which she is suspected.

(ii) The applicant shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade her from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police office or tamper with the evidence.

(iii) The applicant shall file an undertaking to the effect that she shall not seek any adjournment on the date fixed for evidence when the witnesses are present in Court. In case of default of this condition, it shall be open for the trial court to treat it as abuse of liberty of bail and pass orders in accordance with law.

(iv) The applicant shall remain present before the trial court on each date fixed, either personally or through her counsel. In case of her absence, without sufficient cause, the trial court may proceed against her under Section 229-A IPC.

(v) In case, the applicant misuses the liberty of bail during trial and in order to secure her presence proclamation under Section 82 Cr.P.C may be issued and if applicant fails to appear before the Court on the date fixed in such proclamation, then, the trial court shall initiate proceedings against her, in accordance with law, under Section 174-A IPC.

(vi) The applicant shall remain present, in person, before the trial court on dates fixed for (a) opening of the case, (b) framing of charge; and (c) recording of statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C.

Since in the statement of Dr Umakant quoted above, serious allegations have been levelled against the Senior Officers of the State Government as well as its Minister, the Court is of the view that the sanctity of the said statement needs thorough investigation.

”In such circumstances, while exercising the inherent powers conferred by Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482 Cr.P.C, this Court directs the Director, CBI, New Delhi to register a case on the statement of Dr Umakant recorded under Section 161 Cr.P.C in the present case, as mentioned in para 17 of this order (part of CD 20) and to conduct an investigation in relation to the allegations made by Dr. Umakant in relation to mal-practice adopted in the admission process of UG and PG courses in Ayush Department, in the year 2019.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, STF is directed to hand over all the relevant copies of the documents, including the case diary to the Director CBI.

The Senior Registrar of the Court is directed to communicate this order to the Director, CBI, New Delhi, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Home, Government of U.P, as also to the counsel appearing for the CBI before this Court for necessary compliance, forthwith”, the order reads.

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