Hard disks seized in Madhya Pradesh e-tendering row, clerk test on radar
A day after Kamal Nath took over as Madhya Pradesh chief minister, the police informed the state government on Tuesday that the Centre’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has seized 11 hard disks related to the e-tendering scam.
Alongside, a probe was ordered by the state government into allegations of irregularities in the conduct of a clerks’ recruitment examination by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, called Vyapam, and a CBI court in Indore convicted an accused in the 2009 Vyapam scam in medical admissions.
V Madhukumar, director of the economic offences wing (EOW), confirmed that a CERT team had seized hard disks from the Madhya Pradesh State Electronic Development Corporation (MPSEDC) in the Rs 3,000 crore scam, which the Congress had made an issue in the recently concluded assembly elections.
The EOW had asked the CERT to assist it with investigations as the state agency did not have the technical expertise to decode the data on the hard disk.
The scam relates to the alleged hacking of the e-procurement portal hosted by the MPSEDC to see e-tenders before bids are opened and to lower the bids to favour certain companies. At present, the EOW is investigating nine e-tenders of three departments, all of which have been cancelled.
Those familiar with the investigation said the CERT visited the MPSEDC office in the first week of this month and scanned records over three days. “We have informed the state government about the latest development today [Tuesday],” a senior government official, who was not willing to be named, said.
The CERT is expected to sift through the data on the hard disks to find out the specific computer, its IP address and the time/place when the changes in tenders were made and submit a report within a month. Once the report is handed in, the EOW, which has been investigating the case over the last six months, will register an FIR, officials familiar with the matter said.
The e-tendering scam was an election issue for the Congress and the then leader of the Opposition, Ajay Singh, had claimed it was bigger than the Vyapam scam. The Congress had dema- nded that all the e-tenders floated by MPSEDC since its inception in 2013 should be examined.
An inquiry was ordered into an alleged ‘toppers’ scam in a clerks’ recruitment exam conducted by Vyapam where six candidates who had been under-performing in every other test suddenly emerged as toppers.
Principal secretary, technical education, Ashok Varnawal, will inquire into the allegations. The order came after a group of candidates, along with Congress MLA Kunal Chaudhary, met Nath.
Akshay Hunka, convener of the Berozgar Sena, an organisation of unemployed youth, claimed the scam took place in the Group 4 (assistant grade III) recruitment exam conducted to fill 2,700 clerical posts in different departments. The exam was conducted in July and the results were announced on December 12.
“The six candidates who were unable to score even 50 per cent in two other recruitment exams suddenly scored 95 per cent and became toppers. Such improvement might be possible in one case, but six cases raise suspicion,” Hunka said.
A CBI special court in Indore sentenced a Vyapam accused to five years’ rigorous imprisonment on Tuesday. According to CBI advocate Ranjan Sharma, a resident of Morena, Manoj Jatav cleared the Pre-Medical Test, 2009, with the help of impersonators.