PEB scam: Why won't Shivraj Chouhan order a CBI probe?

The Special Task Force (STF) of Madhya Pradesh Police, which is conducting investigations into the scam, presented its preliminary inquiry report before the sessions judge in Bhopal.

Chandrakant Naidu January 24, 2014 16:16:33 IST
PEB scam: Why won't Shivraj Chouhan order a CBI probe?

Bhopal: Even as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan refuses to seek a CBI inquiry into the Professional Examination Board scam, new revelations are embarrassing the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh.

PEB scam Why wont Shivraj Chouhan order a CBI probe

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivra Singh Chouhan. AFP

Chouhan himself admits the scandal is a big blot on the BJP’s 10-year rule.

The Special Task Force (STF) of Madhya Pradesh Police, which is conducting investigations into the scam, presented its preliminary inquiry report before the sessions judge in Bhopal. The STF has claimed that key employees of the PEB have admitted to having collected several crores of rupees to help candidates clear the entrance tests for medical and engineering colleges in the state through unfair means. More money changed hands to help candidates clear the tests for recruitment to many departments including the police department.

Leaders of the Opposition and the ruling party have expressed shock at the inquiry being carried out by the STF despite several police officers involved in the scam and many policemen having been recruited via PEB. The skepticism rises because the STF keeps making selective leaks through the media.

Thousands of students gained degrees unfairly and thousands of government jobs have been handed to ineligible candidates through the scam. The Congress demanded a CBI inquiry but Chouhan’s stand on corruption got the state assembly’s approval when Speaker RS Sharma disallowed questions from Congressmen.

The government managed to avoid a debate on the issue like it did in the earlier assembly. Chouhan, who admitted in the House that nearly 1000 people were recruited through unfair means, keeps talking of “zero tolerance” against corruption but has refused to hand over the issue to the CBI despite demands from senior BJP leaders like Uma Bharti.

Besides policemen, bureaucrats, politicians from the ruling and opposition parties, power brokers and business tycoons have all been party to the scandal. Of nearly 200 people booked for involvement include the influential former minister, Laxmikant Sharma who was defeated in the recent assembly elections. The others facing the heat are a DIG of police RK Shivhare and IAS officer KC Jain. Sharma was accused of promoting Dr Pankaj Trivedi as controller of PEB ignoring the objections from bureaucrats. Trivedi was promoted on the recommendation of mining baron Sudhir Sharma who has been a key financier of BJP.

Dhanraj Yadav, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Governor Ram Naresh Yadav was also among 129 named in the FIR. The Minister's name figured in the data recovered from PEB's chief system analyst Nitin Mohindra. The list of accused also includes Congress leader Sanjeev Saxena.

In 1970 the state government formed a board to conduct entrance examinations for the government medical colleges. Another board was formed in 1981 for engineering colleges. The PEB formed in 1982 replaced both these boards. With the commercialisation of professional education in 2002 insiders breached the system for fraudulent admissions.

In 2005 the BJP government handed the PEB the recruitment examinations for the personnel for various departments. This turned it into a milch cow and exploiters formed an organised racket. Now recruitments to 40 departments are controlled by the PEB.

With the proliferation of private medical and engineering colleges from 2004 onwards, the PEB started conducting examinations for 50 percent of their seats. Here the college owners played a trick. They got good “scorers” to appear for these tests. On clearing the test they withdrew on the last date leaving the field open for the promoters to sell the seats for hefty donations.

With more engineering colleges opening the insiders helped them at the expense of deserving students. The private medical colleges also started post-graduation courses infiltrating into the government colleges through unfair means.

When the 'recruitment mafia' realised that though it could help candidates pass the theory test for police department it could not help them clear the physical test, they got fitness norms diluted. In some cases they even managed to get the fitness test abolished.

While the college admissions fetched the middlemen anything between Rs 5 to 50 lakh per candidate the recruitment racket fetched them Rs 1 to 10 lakh for each candidate.

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