New Delhi/Bhopal, July 9: The Supreme Court on Thursday told the CBI to probe the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh including the over 40 deaths linked to it. The BJP welcomed the ruling even as the Congress and the CPI-M sought Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s resigtion.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that he has instructions from the Madhya Pradesh government to let the CBI take charge of the sensatiol case.
The court said: “The AG ... says the state of Madhya Pradesh has no objection whatsoever for transferring investigation into crimil cases related to Vyapam scam to the CBI and also the cases related to the deaths ... for (a) fair and impartial investigation.
“In view of the above, we transfer investigation of the crimil cases relating to Vyapam scam and the deaths to the CBI from Monday.”
On the plea seeking the Supreme Court’s monitoring of the CBI probe, the court said it will take a call after hearing from the investigating agency on July 24.
Vyapam (Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal) conducts recruitment and entrance exams not done by the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission. The Vyapam scam came to light in 2013 and has since assumed mind-boggling proportions, leading to the arrest of nearly 2,100 people.
The Supreme Court also issued notice to the central and Madhya Pradesh governments and Governor Ram resh Yadav on a plea challenging the state high court order quashing a FIR against the governor for his alleged role in the recruitment of forest guards.
The high court has said the governor enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
Hours after the apex court verdict, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took potshots at Prime Minister rendra Modi and accused him of shielding the Madhya Pradesh chief minister.
“The prime minister said (during the Lok Sabha election campaign) that he will neither indulge in corruption nor let anyone be corrupt. Why is he backing leaders in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh?” Gandhi asked here.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vaddakan said Chouhan should quit for the sake of a proper investigation. “The message from the Supreme Court is clear.”
As both Chouhan and the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) insisted that it was the chief minister who wanted the CBI in, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said Chouhan should have gone for a CBI probe two years back.
Meanwhile, the death of one more person connected with the Vyapam scam came to light in Bhopal.
The Special Task Force presented the death certificate of Sanjay Yadav, one of the accused-turned-witnesses, to a court.
On Wednesday, the STF court in Bhopal was told that Yadav died two months ago in a private hospital in Bhopal after prolonged illness.
BJP spokesperson lin Kohli welcomed the apex court decision for a CBI probe and said it was an endorsement of the Madhya Pradesh government’s demand.
Chouhan said in Bhopal that he was feeling relieved and wanted the truth to come out.
He said “an impression was being created across the country that Madhya Pradesh had become a land of murders”.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist also asked Chouhan to resign if “an impartial investigation” has to be held into the Vyapam scam.
WHAT IS THE VYAPAM SCAM
The Madhya Pradesh Professiol Examition Board scam, most commonly known by its Hindi acronym as the ‘Vyapam (Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal) scam’ dates back to 2007, with investigations in the case starting after some details came to light in 2013.
So what is it all about?
There are reports that bribes were being paid by those seeking admission to medical colleges. In exchange for kickbacks, those in the government were allowing imposters to take the admission exam.
How did it work?
There were many ways; the most favoured being impersotion. The detail would be in the admit card, including date of birth, me, and roll numbers of the candidate who was applying for the seat with one change — the photograph would be of the impersotor, the person who would actually write the exam. Other common practice was leaving the answer sheet blank. The candidates would be asked to leave their sheets blank, and would be given high percentages at random, after the exam. The answers would be filled in the answer sheets later, according to the marks given. It is being alleged that around 77 lakh candidates paid bribes as part of the scam.
Why has it gained sudden attention?
Since the investigation began, 45 people have died. They include witnesses, accused, people assisting the inquiry and a jourlist. According to the report admitted before the Madhya Pradesh high court, 23 of these deaths were ‘untural’ causes. According to the police, there are 2,500 accused in the scam; 1,900 are in prison. About 500 are missing.