Giving a clean chit to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a charge sheet against 490 individuals in the multi-crore Vyapam medical scam, News18 reported.
While submitting the charge sheet in the special court in Bhopal, the CBI told the judge that there was no tampering with a hard disk drive seized by the Madhya Pradesh Police in the case, dismissing an allegation by senior Congress leader and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh on this count.
"We conducted investigation on allegations by Digvijay Singh and another person on tampering with the hard disk drive seized from a computer of the then Principal System Analyst of Vyapam on 18 July, 2013. Based on CFSL (Central Forensic Science Laboratory) reports and other evidence gathered, the CBI has concluded that there is no tampering in the said drive," the CBI charge sheet said.
"We had submitted a status report on the findings of investigation into alleged tampering with the hard disk to the Supreme Court," it said.
Those named in the CBI charge sheet include three Vyapam officials, three racketeers, 17 middlemen, 297 paper solvers and beneficiary candidates and 170 guardians of beneficiary candidates. Most accused were operating from state capital Bhopal, Indore, Ujjain, Shahdol, Ratlam, and Sagar in Madhya Pradesh.
The charge sheet against another 12 accused will be filed in juvenile courts concerned. The charge sheet was connected to the Pre-Medical Test of 2013 -- one of several cases of irregularities in examinations conducted by Vyapam.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 31, 2017
CBI investigators said the organised rackets employed students from across the country to allegedly impersonate medical students and appear in recruitment exams since 2008. Middlemen manipulated seating arrangements and forged answersheets in exchange of lakhs of rupees.
Speaking to CNN-News18, Anand Rai, who exposed the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, said that the whistleblowers have lost all hope in the state special task force and believe only Supreme Court can help them.
Vyapam Scam: CBI says there is no basis in allegations made by Digvijaya Singh that the hard disk which was seized was tampered with. — ANI (@ANI) October 31, 2017
The charge sheet filed on Tuesday said the racketeers managed to get roll numbers in such a manner that a beneficiary candidate was seated right behind his solver candidate to facilitate cheating.
CBI investigations revealed that these solver candidates were among medical college students or bright medical college aspirants taking coaching in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra.
"The CBI collected pertinent details of students of various medical colleges and coaching institutes spread all over these states and prepared a data base of more than 10 lakh such students.
"With the help of advanced forensic software and said data base, the CBI was able to identify and trace 42 accused solver candidates. Using other innovative methods, the CBI was able to trace 11 middlemen and made them join investigation," the charge sheet added.
The scam in Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam) or Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board broke out in 2013, wherein candidates bribed officials, rigged exams by deploying imposters to write their answersheets.
The arrest of 20 people in Indore blew the lid off the massive scam, which quickly snowballed into the biggest political crisis for Chouhan and led to more than 2,000 arrests, including those of politicians, bureaucrats, and middlemen.
Over 40 persons, including witnesses, accused, and alleged beneficiaries, died in mysterious circumstances ever since the scam broke out. These included a son of the then governor. Some died in freak accidents or of mysterious illnesses.
The CBI was entrusted by the Supreme Court to look into the alleged conspiracy to eliminate suspects booked in the scam and was asked to investigate deaths of 24 individuals.
On 15 October, CBI said that the controversy over the deaths linked to the admission and recruitment scam was a result of a goof-up by the Madhya Pradesh Police including the names of dead persons as accused in its FIRs registered in the cases pertaining to the scam.
On 17 September, nine CBI courts hearing Vyapam cases were closed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court at the request of the agency, which wanted the cases to be shifted to its other special courts for a tighter scrutiny of trials.
The court set up 22 special courts for hearing Vyapam scam-related cases and had closed four of them earlier.
The Supreme Court had asked CBI in August to submit the charge sheet in the trial court, including the CFSL report on electronic evidence—excel file (in hard disk and pendrive)—collected during the probe.
After submitting pen drive containing the evidence, the Congress claimed in 2015 that it got the original excel sheet of the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) results drawn from the hard disk of PEB examination controller Nitin Mohindra.
The excel sheet showed the chief minister having recommended several candidates.
Digvijaya Singh claimed that the document was later tampered with to replace the chief minister’s name with that of senior leader Uma Bharti, the governor and some ministers.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 31, 2017 22:00:52 IST