Govt should promote entrepreneurs to tackle fake job rackets: Madras High Court disposes of PIL registered after Judge received fake job offers

The job racket drew attention in 2017 after a Diploma Holder in Civil Engineering shared the contacts of Madras High Court Judges with certain manpower agencies that he believed were routinely cheating job aspirants.
Govt should promote entrepreneurs to tackle fake job rackets: Madras High Court disposes of PIL registered after Judge received fake job offers
Madras High Court

The Madras High Court on Thursday disposed of a 2017 suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) case initiated after a sitting High Court Judge, Justice S Vaidyanathan was contacted by placement agencies with dubious offers for personal interviews and job appointments.

While disposing of the PIL, a Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and Vaidyanathan also emphasised that such fake job rackets can be tackled only through the creation of more job opportunities.

"In order to overcome the growing menace of job racketing and tackle the unemployment problem, we suggest the Government both at Centre and Tamil Nadu to promote entrepreneurs and create self-employment opportunities to youth, depending upon their skills, so that the future generation of this Country can be safeguarded from falling prey to such money mongering vultures," the Court said.

The Bench added that the government concerned should think of periodically conducting awareness programmes to encourage self-employment schemes and that the government authorities must aid the youth in getting bank loans with substantial reductions in tax benefits.

"Of course, it is true that every unemployed youth will thrive for getting a Government job, but at the same time, it should be borne in mind that their young age should not be wasted in equipping themselves and preparation for Government jobs, instead they can create their own new businesses and job opportunities through self-employment," the Court observed.

Considering the seriousness of the allegations, the Court went on to direct that the progress of investigation in the job racket case at hand be reported to the High Court's registrar periodically.

"Progress of the investigation, trial, arrest of co-accused, etc., shall have to be intimated to the Registrar Judicial of this Court every now and then, as a serious scam of job racketing is involved in this case and a fake interview call letter has been issued in the name of a Sitting Judge of this Court. In case any lethargic attitude is shown in the investigation of this case by the Respondent Police, this Court will never hesitate to initiate contempt proceedings against such erring Officials," the Court warned.

Further, the police was also directed to expeditiously file chargesheet (within a month) against the main accused, Chitra. The trial court was also asked to complete the trial within six months after the chargesheet is filed.

Whereas there were others co-accused yet to be apprehended, the Court said that separate charges can be filed against such co-accused once they are traced. The delay in tracing the co-accused should not stand in the way of completing the case proceedings against accused already apprehended, i.e. Chitra, the Court opined.

On the man who posed as Court-staff to make false promises to secure jobs at Madras High Court

In its order, the Bench also referred to a recent unpleasant incident where a man posed as a member of the High Court's staff and swindled money on false promises to secure jobs at the Court for others.

"Recently, we have come across an unpleasant incident, which had taken place in the High Court premises itself that an accused by name Raman (name changed), posing himself to be a staff of particular section, in which already a staff with the same name has been working, collected monies from various persons in the garb of securing jobs in the Madras High Court. The persons, who were cheated started visiting Raman, who has been actually working in the High Court and several enquiries were made about his integrity. The real Raman, upon sensing fraudulent act of some unknown accused, lodged a complaint with the Police to prove his innocence, even though he was neither a victim nor connected with such collection of amount at all", the Court narrated.

The real culprit was later arrested and was found to have cheated several persons as per his confession statement to the police. The case is progressing "after intervention of a learned Judge (as otherwise, the case would have been thrown to dustbin)," the Court further noted.

The Bench also observed that the said case also involves allegations against a Head Constable or Writer working in the Police Department, as per the complainant.

On a more general note, the Court observed that there were several scams taking place in the present era including the "Nigerian 419 Scam" and that fake job rackets are on the rise amid the pandemic.

"Of late, several unemployed youth are being cheated by job racketeers and anti social elements, especially taking advantage of the present pandemic situation, where thousands of people have lost their jobs. The gangs at first target credulous unemployed youth and lure them with attractive job offers both at Central and State Governments and some times in reputed private Organizations. Believing their deceitful words and on account of repercussion of poverty, such youth easily fall prey into their wickedness and transmit the amount to their account and by the time, they realize that they are cheated, everything would have almost gone out of their hand, which would further add fuel to the fire and anguish in their life, leading to commit suicide as a last resort. The method of minting money by utilizing the unemployment problem is mushrooming in the recent past and though the amount sought to be transferred can be meagre, it will get doubled or multiplied, when thousands of people transfer the amount in their favour," the Court noted.

How the desperate act of a scammed job candidate unearthed a fake job racket

The job racket was sought to be highlighted by a 25-year-old Bharathiraja, a Diploma Holder in Civil Engineering, who shared the contacts of Justice Vaidyanathan and other Madras High Court Judges with certain manpower agencies that he believed were routinely cheating job aspirants.

This was done after he found himself at the receiving end of a fake job offer and in a bid to draw the Court's attention to the racket.

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Having found that this was the root cause of a dubious job offer made to Justice Vaidyanathan, the Court cautioned Bharathiraja from resorting to such means in the future. On Thursday, the Court reiterated its cautionary note:

"This Court wants to reiterate that Bharathiraja, who (though) was the root cause to let the cat out of the bag, had given the mobile number of a Judge and address out of despair and dejection, so as to draw the attention of the Police Officials to book the accused and he is once again warned not to adopt this type of strategy in future. Bharathiraja shall cooperate with the enquiry, investigation and trial of the case, as and when called for."

However, the Court has asked the Police not to take action against Bharathiraja given the plight that compelled him to do what he did and since he had no criminal intent.

The Court also noted that five recruitment agencies earlier impleaded as respondents were found not to have been involved in the job racket. They were, therefore, deleted from the array of parties.

Following an investigation by the CB-CID, one Chitra was arrested as the main accused in 2017 and later released on conditional bail in 2018.

File chargesheet, complete trial expeditiously: Court

The Court recorded the CB-CID's finding that Chitra, a woman of Tamil origin but who was born and brought up in Delhi, had played the main role in the fake job racket.

Chitra has been accused of disguising herself as Shivani Agarwal and Bhumi Bharti to collect huge amounts from unemployed youth through dubious job offers. The swindled money so collected is stated to be to the tune of ₹ 9,28,850 (about Rs 9.28 lakh).

Chitra is also stated to have named Prathap @ Raju as a co-conspirator, although the CB-CID was unable to establish his identity or trace such a person. The Court was told that this was the reason why no charge-sheet was filed in the case as for yet.

The Court responded by directing that the case be split so that the proceedings against Chitra may continue without waiting for all the co-accused to be traced.

"The FIR in this case was registered as early as on 20.10.2017. Even though a lady accused was nabbed, remanded to custody and subsequently, released on bail by the Court below, still the investigation moves in a snail-paced and dawdling manner, as the whereabouts of other co-accused are not traceable. Therefore, we are of the view that the Respondent Police, instead of spending time in search of other accused and keeping in abeyance a criminal case without any progress for quite a long time, shall split up the case in respect of the accused Chitra and complete all other formalities, such as filing of charge sheet before the concerned jurisdictional Magistrate (within a month from today), if not already filed, cooperating for smooth conduct of the Trial in the case, etc", the Court said.

As soon as the others accused are arrested, they shall be proceeded with separately, the Bench said. After the chargehseet is filed, the Trial Court shall hear the matter without adjourning it beyond seven working days at any point. The trial should be completed as expeditiously as possible and not later than six months after the charge sheet is filed, the Court added.

The matter has been posted for compliance in February 2022.

[Read Order]

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