The Madhya Pradesh high court on Tuesday quashed an FIR against governor Ramnaresh Yadav in connection with the multi-layered examination and recruitment scam, one of the biggest scandals in the state in recent times.
A bench of chief justice AM Khanwilkar and justice Rohit Arya held that the immunity granted to a governor under Article 361(1) or 361 (3) of the Constitution made it imperative that an FIR can be lodged against a governor, if required, in connection with a crime only after he ceases to be in office.
The special task force (STF) probing the scam - commonly referred to as the MP professional examination board scam -- had filed the FIR against Yadav, 88, alleging his complicity in a forest guard recruitment exam conducted by the MPPEB in 2013.
Yadav's son Shailesh, also an accused in the scam, had died in mysterious circumstances in Lucknow in March this year.
The multi-layered scam saw candidates rig examinations for admission to colleges and recruitment in government jobs through scamsters who employed imposters to write test papers, manipulated sitting arrangements and even supplied forged answer sheets.
While quashing the FIR, the judges made it clear that the STF could re-file the FIR against Yadav once he demits office.
The judges also made it clear that the STF could continue its investigation into the case in which the FIR was lodged against the governor and could also record his statement.
"…The immunity and privilege is only during the term of office. At the same time the immunity and privilege extended to the governor will not impair or whittle down the powers of the police to investigate the criminal case registered against other accused who cannot claim such privilege and in the process, record statement of the petitioner, if required," the judges observed.
The court, however, asked the STF not to undermine the "majesty of the office of the governor" while proceeding with the investigation.
Earlier on April 18, the high court had in an interim order stayed the FIR filed on February 24, asking the prosecuting agency not to take any "coercive action" against him.