MPPEB scam: Deaths to be looked into, but probe only if HC says so, says SIT
Justice Chandresh Bhushan, who heads the special investigation team overseeing the probe into the multi-crore MPPEB scam, said on Tuesday that he has asked the Special Task Force to look into the police’s inquiries into cases of ‘unnatural’ deaths of those accused in the irregularities.bhopal Updated: Jul 06, 2015 13:31 IST
Justice Chandresh Bhushan, who heads the special investigation team overseeing the probe into the multi-crore MPPEB scam, said on Tuesday that he has asked the Special Task Force to look into the police’s inquiries into cases of ‘unnatural’ deaths of those accused in the irregularities.
Bhushan, who reports to the Madhya Pradesh high court, however said his team’s focus regarding the deaths are presently restricted to only the accused, and an investigation into the deaths of others linked with the scam would be carried out if the HC called for it.
An HT investigation on Monday found that at least 12 others, including possible beneficiaries, have died under suspicious circumstances that included poisoning and road accidents.
The Special Task Force – the team of investigators under Bhushan -- told the HC on Friday that 23 people linked with the scam had died under suspicious circumstances, hinting at a possible attempt of a cover-up. The number went up to 25 with two new deaths on Sunday.
The irregularities are centred on the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), which conducted recruitment for government jobs, besides coordinating state medical college entrances. Many of the suspects are individuals who have held positions of power.
Bhushan said that if the police probes into the deaths of the suspects is found flawed, the cases could be reopened after getting a nod from the high court.
“As of now, we are only concerned with deaths of those who were accused and if we get any instructions from High Court, we may look into the other deaths as well,” he added, when asked about the deaths of the alleged beneficiaries.
Tuesday also saw the Congress intensifying its tactic of cornering the Bharatiya Janata Party government, with its senior leader Digvijaya Singh moving the Supreme Court seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry.
The Opposition has painted picture of a possible conspiracy to silence key players in the case.
But the SIT chief said initial inquiries by the STF do not seem to suggest any wrongdoing.
“In the feedback the STF has collected so far, there is no suspicious death. If there is any suspicion in any case investigated by police, we will inform the high court and action would be taken according to the court’s directives.”
The state government earlier ruled out a CBI probe into the issue, saying all deaths were natural. “There is no necessity of any inquiry. These are natural deaths. Some died of heart attacks. Some died of other ailments. Only a doctor can establish the reason,” home minister Babulal Gaur told HT on Monday.
Police say the fraud -- also known as the Vyapam scam from PEB’s Hindi acronym – involved multiple rackets that helped candidates rig the examinations for money, including employing imposters to write test papers, manipulating sitting arrangements as well as supplying forged answer sheets.
The exams are run by the government and used to select candidates for a wide variety of professional courses, including doctors as well as for jobs in government agencies and police.