Vyapam scam: Still in search of the mastermind

(google photo)

By Sundeep Pouranik,

Bhopal : This past year was expected to be crucial for moving ahead with the corruption charges involving the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), popularly known as Vyapam. The CBI did file two charge-sheets naming a staggering 1,082 accused — but it is yet to name the mastermind of the entire scam.

More importantly, the central investigative agency has given a clean chit to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

It has now been four years since the matter came to light and the CBI has been proving it for the past two years. The scam involved 13 different exams conducted for selecting medical students and state government employees (including food inspectors, transport constables, police personnel, school teachers, dairy supply officers and forest guards) in which the final results were rigged.

“If the mastermind of the Vyapam corruption is not known, then how are the other accused going to be punished? On the contrary, the rest of the accused are also getting bailed out of jail due to the lethargic attitude of the CBI. The CBI charge-sheet is so irrelevant that nobody can be punished on its basis,” veteran lawyer Anand Mohan Mathur told IANS.

Holding that Vyapam is one of the biggest corruption cases in the country, Mathur said the CBI, which was mandated by the Supreme Court to probe the issue, was only going through the paces half-heartedly. He noted that when there is a corruption allegation in a bank, its manager is charged; but in this case, there are no charges against those occupying top positions.

The question that arises, he said, is how did Vyapam become so big a scam without a mastermind?

Dipak Gupta, a noted professor of Criminal Science at Sagar University, said that it is important for the mastermind to be revealed in any big organised crime.

“Charge-sheets have been filed against a thousand people — but they are only middlemen. They are the second step, the first step is getting hold of the mastermind. As long as he/she is not revealed, this case will go on in the same manner. The CBI should first make the name of the mastermind public,” Gupta told IANS.

In March this year, the Congress had accused the Chauhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state of being a party to the corruption charges. Opposition leader Ajay Singh had claimed that several ministers of the Madhya Pradesh government were involved in it, expressing disappointment that no case was registered against them. To this, Chauhan retorted that he had ordered an investigation as soon as the matter was brought to his notice.

It is worth noting that only 1,378 cases involving appointments through Vyapam have come to fore while the total number of appointments is much greater.

Meanwhile, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) also raised objections on Vyapam in its report in March. The report had questioned the reliability of appointments made through Vyapam, specifically mentioning that the appointment of two officers, Dr Yogesh Uprit (2003, Congress government) and Pankaj Trivedi (2011, BJP government) were made on the orders of ministers. Both of these officers have been arrested on several charges. The CAG report further said that the state government never showed an interest in a free and fair audit of Vyapam.

The Vyapam scam was revealed on July 7, 2013, when the Indore crime branch busted a gang involved in facilitating the appearance of fake candidates in the Pre-Medical test (PMT).

The High Court took cognisance of the matter and appointed a Special Task Force (STF) to be monitored by the court’s Justice Chandresh Bhushan. On July 9, 2015, it was decided that the CBI should take over the case, which it did so six days later.

Lakshmikant Sharma, a former minister in the BJP government; his Officer-on-Special-Duty O.P. Shukla; BJP leader Sudhir Sharma; Dhananjay Yadav, the OSD of then Governor Ram Naresh Yadav (2011-16); and computer analyst Nitin Mohindra are among those behind bars even as the case doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

More than 2,000 accused have been arrested in the case and a little over 400 are still at large — as is the mastermind.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at sundeep.p@ians.in)



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