Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started disappointing the people with its investigation of the Vyapam scam. There is now an apprehension that it may only be cooperating with Special Task Force (STF) of Madhya Pradesh police in trying to save big-wigs involved in the scam.
Disposing of a number of petitions in the midst of a nation-wide outrage over several deaths suspected to be related to Vyapam scam, the Supreme Court had directed CBI in July last year to take over investigation of Vyapam scam cases from STF headed by an IPS officer of the rank of Additional Director General of Police. But the CBI investigation in the past eight months has not come up with anything to sustain people’s faith in the impartiality of the country’s premier investigation agency.
It was largely through his own initiative that former independent MLA Paras Saklecha got himself invited by the CBI team last week. Saklecha has made a significant contribution towards exposing the Vyapam scam by raising the matter in the Assembly and also by moving the court. However, he was a disappointed man after his three-hour meeting on January 29 with the CBI officers investigating the scam. He, though, did find out that STF had kept certain Vyapam scam cases, presumably involving big-wigs, with itself through a misrepresentation in the Supreme Court and this is in the knowledge of the CBI.
According to Saklecha, STF had registered 212 cases in connection with the Vyapam scam. But it mentioned only 185 cases when the matter was heard by Supreme Court and the apex court directed STF to hand over these cases to CBI immediately. The remaining 27 cases are still being investigated by STF. Saklecha says that CBI has expressed its inability to do anything regarding these 27 cases unless directed by the State/Central government or by a competent court.
The names of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, his wife Sadhna Singh Chouhan and his close family members and associates are being mentioned in connection with the Vyapam scam. An FIR was registered against present Governor Ram Naresh Yadav but it was quashed on a directive of the High Court because the Constitution does not permit registration of a criminal case against a serving Governor. The Governor’s son Shailesh was accused in another Vyapam scam-related FIR. Shailesh has since died. Laxmi Kant Sharma, who was Minister of Technical Education when the scam was virtually institutionalised is on bail, as are some top functionaries of Vyapam.
Vyapam is the acronym for Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal or Professional Examinations Board (PEB) in English. The modus operandi used in the scam was somewhat like this: the candidates for PMT (pre-medical test) who had worked hard and done well will be disqualified and other names (either on the recommendation of some important person or against payment of a heavy amount) will be shown as having qualified, and even put in merit list, for admission to medical colleges. After investigation, the STF has come across names of doctors working in hospitals who had not even appeared in PMT but had been declared qualified against payment of hefty sums. The young boys and girls who had worked hard for their tests were just at a loss to understand what went wrong.
Complaints of impersonation in tests, like in other examinations, have been made for decades. Occasionally there were reports of leakage of question papers also. But such irregularities were reported only sporadically and there was no evidence of an organised racket. Complaints of irregularities in an organised manner started after 2000 only. Between 2000 and 2012, as many as 55 FIRs were registered in various districts of the State, mostly in Indore and Bhopal. Some parties approached the courts also.
Following a hue and cry inside and outside the Assembly, chief minister Chouhan constituted STF of Madhya Pradesh police to look into the matter. The entire investigation was then handed over to STF which Chouhan probably thought would be easy to control, instead of keeping a track of what was going on where. The STF lost no time in seizing documents, hard disks and other relevant material from the Crime Branch of Indore police. It is said that no records were kept of handing over and taking over of the material from Crime Branch of Indore to the STF which gave rise to the suspicion about tampering with the evidence to save some high-ups.
Release of Laxmikant Sharma from jail may mean trouble for Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. As one of the main accused in the Vyapam scam, he was kept in jail for over 18 months without trial. Probably it was feared that if he was allowed to be freed on bail, he might say something that might not be in the interest of the chief minister and his family members. That was till the Chouhan-appointed Special Task Force (STF) was in charge of the scam investigation.
Vyapam or Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal (Professional Examinations Board – PEB) is entrusted with the task of conducting technical/professional examinations. Manipulations to recruit undeserving candidates in place of meritorious ones started in the Vyapam at some stage. It was during Laxmikant Sharma’s tenure as Minister of Technical Education that Vyapam scam was fully ‘institutionalised’. Sharma was then considered close to the chief minister.
Recruitment to some other departments was also brought under the control of Vyapam. The scam had taken epidemic proportions. Thousands of intelligent and hardworking young boys and girls were denied their due and the relatives of those in power or whoever could pay hefty sums were declared successful, instead.
As stray complaints were made to the police at different places, Chouhan constituted STF under a senior IPS officer ostensibly to investigate the scam but actually to ensure that Chouhan, his family members and some other top leaders were protected.
Top officials of Vyapam, along with many others, were arrested and kept in jail without trial. Laxmikant Sharma, too, was booked in seven scam-related cases and arrested in June last year.
The things changed after the CBI took over the scam investigation from the STF on orders of the Supreme Court. It is not that the officers in the CBI are less dishonest than those manning the STF. But the CBI working is being supervised by the Supreme Court and that gives some hope.
Sharma was the last of the important Vyapam scam accused to come out of jail on bail granted by the High Court on December 20. The only important BJP leader to hail his release was party’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya who also said that Sharma is innocent.
A former MP minister, Vijayvargiya had never been able reconcile to Chouhan’s being the chief minister. After coming out of jail, Sharma said that he would say in court whatever he has to say. What he is planning to say and what Chouhan would like him to say and how Vijayvargiya plays his politics might enormously affect the ruling party and government in the State.