The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the Vyapam scam has sent three computer hard drives for cloning at a forensic laboratory to ascertain claims that they were tampered with by the Madhya Pradesh police, allegedly to erase the name of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The hard drives were retrieved from the official computer of a key scam accused Nitin Mahindra who worked as a system analyst at Vyapam, the Hindi acronym for the Madhya Pradesh professional examination board (MPPEB).
Following the apex court’s directives on July 13, the CBI took up the investigations to the rigging of recruitment examinations and entrance tests to professional medical colleges held between 2004 and 2012 by the MPPEB. Besides, the agency is also probing several mysterious deaths linked to the scam.
In its first status report presented to the Supreme Court on October 9, the CBI said the three hard drives have been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CSFL), Hyderabad, for cloning.
“Once the clone/copies were received, they would be put to rigorous test to verify the allegations of tampering,” the CBI told a bench led by chief justice HL Dattu.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and whistleblowers in the multi-layered scam have alleged that Indore police, which had probed the case initially, had tampered with the original excel-sheets retrieved from the hard drives to erase the name of Chouhan from as many as 42 places.
The chief minister has, however, categorically denied any links to the scam.
They also claim that Chouhan’s name was replaced with (union minister) Uma Bharti, Raj Bhavan, governor, ministers etc.
They had accused the special task force (STF), from which the CBI took over the probe, was relying on the “doctored” excel-sheet in its investigations.
“It’s clear that the CBI is not relying on STF’s notions and presumptions. We hope that they would come up with fresh evidences, which are admissible in the court and stand the scrutiny of law, which the STF evidences would have failed to do,” said Prashant Pandey, one of the whistleblowers, when contacted for his reaction.
Arrest last resort for CBI
In what could mean a relief for Vyapam scam accused languishing in jail for months, the CBI through its representative additional solicitor general Vivek Khedkar informed the double bench of high court at Gwalior on Tuesday that the agency (CBI) exercises arrest option as last resort against a person facing charges of corruption/fraud etc.
The operational procedure of CBI primarily deals with extensive investigation, collection of evidence and preparing charge-sheet against accused persons to be further produced before court.
The court had questioned the CBI on its “double standards” in the matter of opposing bail after two major accused in PMT scam Yogesh Uprit and Dr MS Johri. Khedkar’s statement in the court was a clarification on that.