The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a CBI inquiry into all Vyapam-related cases and the spate of deaths of witnesses, accused and beneficiaries associated with the multi-crore scam, which has bruised the BJP government’s reputation in Madhya Pradesh.
The top court also issued notice to the Centre, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government and governor Ram Naresh Yadav on a plea seeking his removal for his alleged role in the multi-layered admission and recruitment scam in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, or Vyapam, that apparently involves politicians, officials and businessmen.
Earlier, the Madhya Pradesh high court had quashed an FIR against governor Yadav on the grounds that he enjoyed immunity of the constitutional office he was occupying.
The top court’s order to transfer all Vyapam-related cases to the CBI came after the Chouhan government gave its consent to shifting investigation from the high court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) and the special task force (STF), which has been accused of adopting a slack approach in catching the guilty.
The court said all cases would be transferred to the CBI from Monday and the agency should file its report on July 24.
Watch: The A to Z of the Vyapam scam
The opposition Congress, social activists and whistle-blowers welcomed the apex court’s decision after the embattled state government moved the Madhya Pradesh high court for a probe by the central agency and the matter was deferred for July 20.
“The high court wants to wash off its hand. On CBI inquiry, instead of doing that, they are now saying that ball is in the Supreme Court,” the top court said after attorney general Mukul Rohatgi submitted the state’s stand.
Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Digvijaya Singh, one of the petitioners who led the chorus for a CBI probe, said he was grateful to the Supreme Court. “It was much needed. The people who took money are roaming free and those who paid, children and parents, are in jail.”
Agreed Ashish Kumar Chaturvedi, another petitioner who is also a whistleblower in the case. “I am now confident that justice will be done in the case.”
A bunch of petitions, including the one filed by the Congress leader and three whistleblowers — Chaturvedi, Dr Anand Rai and Prashant Pandey — seeking a CBI probe monitored by the top court was heard on Thursday.
I welcome Hon'ble Supreme Court's decision. My faith in judiciary is paramount. Let the truth prevail.— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) July 9, 2015
When senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi and Vivek Tanka were assailing the procedure adopted in the Madhya Pradesh high court, the bench interrupted them. “Once the CBI comes into the picture, can HC proceed? Obviously no,” the top court observed.
It refrained from making any remarks on the governor when Sibal said Yadav should demit office to maintain its dignity.
When Sibal was speaking about the magnitude of the scam and seeking short notice saying that everyday people are dying, the court observed: “We would not allow it to go from 36 to 38.”
When Sibal said the deaths have risen to 48, the bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu said: “In the petition I see 36.”
In his petition, Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas said 45 people have died in mysterious circumstances in connection with the case.
The multi-crore rupees professional examination scam, involves several high-profile professionals, politicians and bureaucrats as accused. The alleged scam involves MPPEB, which holds examinations
for various posts such as teachers, medical officers, constables and forest guards.
The MPPEB scam is said to be worth over Rs 10,000 crore and more than 2.5 million young people have been affected by the scandal, if only the recruitment and entrance tests conducted in 2012 and 2013 being probed by the STF are taken into account.
The scam broke in 2013 when Indore police found multiple rackets manipulating for years the pre-entrance medical test (PMT) of the state board.