Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Madhya Pradesh HC dismisses plea seeking criminal proceedings against Betul district collector

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed a petition seeking direction to the respondents to initiate criminal proceedings against the District Collector/Chairman of the Zila Shiksha Kendra of Betul District.

The petition has been filed by one Anurag Modi seeking the following reliefs :-

“7.1) That, the respondents be directed to initiate criminal proceedings against the District Collector/Chairman of the Zila Shiksha Kendra and the then Coordinator of Zila Shiksha Kendra who were directly responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the SSA programmes in Betul district and direct them to pay Punitive compensation to the respondent State of MP, the Union of India and to the students of Betul District for acting negligently and willfully providing wrong information in terms of distribution of the books.

7.2) That the Respondents be directed to compensate the students of the District of Betul towards the loss of their academic performance and violation of their fundamental right as provided under Article 21A of the Constitution of India.

7.3) The Hon’ble Court may constitute a team of experts in the field of education to evaluate the present scheme as being run in the State of M.P. and suggest necessary changes so as to enable the Respondents to fully and completely discharge their constitutional obligation under Article 21, 21A and 46.

7.4) That, the Hon’ble High Court may be pleased to grant any other relief deemed fit in the view of the facts and circumstances of the case.”

Reply has been filed by the respondents. They have stated that the Station Incharge Police Chowkiganj, Betul vide letter dt. 15.1.2007 found 70 bags of books with the kabadi. A copy of FIR in this respect is filed. On investigation, it was revealed that some teachers were involved in this incident. On the basis of this investigation, action was taken against the teachers. All these teachers were suspended by the Collector, Betul vide letter dt. 16.1.2007. Complaint was lodged on 16.1.2007 . On 18.1.2007 the Collector Betul constituted an Inquiry Committee in the chairmanship of SDM, Betul, DEO, Principal Govt. Girls Higher Secondary School, Betul and Principal, School of Excellency, Betu to conduct an inquiry into the said affairs. The books so seized were obtained on suprudnama and are deposited with Zila Shiksha Kendra, Betul.

It is pertinent to note that these are only books and are not sets of books. Therefore, it cannot be presumed that sets of books were not distributed. This Committee is conducting the inquiry and is likely to submit the report. On receipt of the information of the said incident, the State Government appointed a high level committee in chairmanship of Addl. Mission Director, (AMD) Rajya Shiksha Kendra who submitted his inquiry report on 27.1.2007. A copy of the inquiry report dated 27-01-2007 is filed. On the basis of recommendation made vide inquiry report dated 27-01-2007, the Principal Secretary, Department of School Education issued directions to take all prevention steps so that such incident may not take place again, said the affidavit.

An action taken report has also been filed by the respondents pursuant to the order passed by the High Court dated 16.08.2021 with regard to bringing the outcome of the investigation in pursuance to FIR. It is stated therein that after FIR regular trial has been conducted against the concerned persons and various materials have been seized. The accused in trial case have been acquitted vide order dated 14.10.2015. Thereafter in the departmental inquiry, the accused persons were placed under suspension by the department vide order dated 16.01.2007. Thereafter on 14.03.2008, suspension order was revoked and after acquittal by the competent Civil Court, the inquiry was also closed.

Keeping in mind the reply filed as well as the action taken report, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra was of the view that the plea of the petitioner has since been answered and do not find any ground to proceed further in the matter.

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