In what can be termed as set-back to the ongoing investigation into the Vyapam scam, a division bench of the high court in Indore has quashed all the charges against scam accused Santosh Kumar Gupta.
Gupta, who ran a coaching class in Jabalpur, had been arrested in July 2013. Along with Sudhir Rai, Gupta had been accused of running the inter-state PMT (pre-medical test) impersonation racket which guaranteed admission to aspirants in MBBS courses in private medical colleges in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Charges had been framed under Sections 419, 420, 467, 471 of IPC and Sections 3\4 Madhya Pradesh Recognised Examination Act, 1937, against Gupta.
Justice P K Jaiswal and Justice Virender Singh in their ruling said, “It is a rule of prudence …. that it is unsafe to act upon the evidence of an accomplice unless it is corroborated in material respects so as to implicate the accused; and further the evidence of one accomplice cannot be used to corroborate the evidence of another accomplice.”
“When there is no other evidence on record establishing his (Gupta’s) involvement, he cannot be convicted on the basis of the statement of the co-accused Abhinav, which in our opinion, is also not credible as no recovery is made on the basis of that statement. Once the statement is obliterated and kept out of consideration, nothing remains on record to presume guilt of the petitioner. There is, thus, no credible evidence to persuade us to uphold the charges framed against the petitioner.”
Petitioner’s counsel Amit Dube said that the entire case against his client had been built on disclosures made by Abhinav Katare, who has been made an accused for using unfair means to get admission into 2008 MBBS course in MGM Medical college, in Indore. “Abhinav told police that he had paid Rs 2,50,000 to Gupta to arrange for a ‘solver’ with whose help he managed to clear PMT-2008. However, the prosecution could not point out any evidence collected during the investigation by the police, which connected the petitioner to the crime. Neither was money recovered nor was the ‘solver’ identified,” advocate Dube said.
It was Indore police which initially stumbled upon the impersonators in 2013 ahead of the pre-medical test and arrested more than a dozen students and scorers from a hotel.
As the scam began unfolding the investigation was transferred from Indore Crime Branch to Special Task Force under monitoring of high court and finally the CBI took over the investigation.