Vyapam scam: Supreme Court to hear plea for CBI probe today

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will take up pleas for a CBI probe in the Vyapam scam on Thursday as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan declared on Wednesday that he would also back such a request in the apex court but ruled out resignation from the post.

All eyes are on the Supreme Court which is scheduled to take up a batch of petitions for ordering a CBI probe into the multi-crore scandal after the Madhya Pradesh High court on Wednesday deferred hearing on a state government’s plea for a probe by the central agency. Saying the apex court would hear similar petitions on Thursday, the High Court, where the state government filed a plea on Tuesdat for a CBI probe, deferred the hearing till July 20.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was in Delhi, dismissed demands for his resignation saying the Congress and other parties have been demanding it right from the day he became chief minister more than 10 years ago.
He maintained that none in the party top brass had asked him to plead for a CBI probe. “My leadership trusts me fully and that is something I am proud of. Noone told me that I should request for a CBI probe. I felt the need for it myself as an air of suspicion was being created in the last two or three days,” Chouhan told PTI on Wednesday

“We requested the (Madhya Pradesh) High Court that the probe should be done by CBI. The matter is likely to come up before the Supreme Court tomorrow. We will make the same prayer there too. “The Congress and the opposition cannot tolerate the path of progress under me in Madhya Pradesh. They have been demanding my resignation from the beginning. They are bringing disrepute to Madhya Pradesh,” he said.

Meanwhile, the massive admission and recruitment scam that has seriously dented the state’s BJP government’s public image, took another murky turn with the post mortem report of a female MBBS student, a suspect in the case whose body was found beside railway tracks in Ujjain in 2012, maintaining it was a “homicidal” death caused by “violent asphyxia”.

As the report came into the public domain for the first time at the height of the controversy over a string of mysterious deaths of people associated with Vyapam, including five over the past week, the Madhya Pradesh police decided to reopen the case and launch fresh investigation.

Police had registered a case of murder following Amrita Damor’s death but later closed it describing it as an “accident”. The case that had faded from public memory with time, had come into focus last week when TV Today group journalist Akshay Singh died soon after interviewing her parents.

A day after the Chouhan government buckled under heightened all round pressure and moved the High Court seeking a CBI probe, the matter came up before a division bench headed by Chief Justice A M Khankilwar which deferred the hearing till July 20 on the ground that the Supreme Court is to hear a clutch of similar pleas tomorrow.

Additional Advocate General P Kaurav said the state government had in its plea contended that though the Special Task Force of MP police was “efficiently” investigating the scam, it wants a CBI inquiry following the “recent unfortunate incidents”.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesdat ragreed to hear the plea of Congress leader Digvijay Singh and three whistle-blowers — Ashish Chaturvedi, Anand Rai and Prashant Pandey — seeking a CBI probe into the scam.

In what could prove to be evidence of a cover-up in the Vyapam scam investigation, the report of the autopsy conducted on a 19-year-old medical student in 2012, which said she was strangled, was overturned two months later by a “forensic” report which indicated that she committed suicide.

The body of Namrata Damor was found on a railway track in Ujjain in January 2012. The autopsy report filed the same month said she died from “violent asphyxia as a result of smothering” and that the findings suggested “homicidal” death. The police initially filed a case of murder, but while filing a closure report in 2014, termed it a suicide.

That view appears to have been influenced by a forensic report, filed two months after the autopsy, by B.S. Badkur, then head of the State-run Medico-Legal Institute. In an interview to a TV channel, Dr. Badkur admitted that he had written the report without examining the body but simply by looking at pictures of the body and “other documents”. On the basis of this evidence, his report concluded that Namrata’s injuries were more consistent with a fall on the train track rather than smothering or asphyxiation.

“There is always some reason to commit suicide. In this case it appears to be some disappointment in love and annoyance of parents,” the report says. Congress leaders here immediately alleged that the second report was a cover-up and that no forensic report could be done on the basis of just looking at photographs.

The first autopsy report, of January 9, 2012, was signed by B.B. Purohit (forensic medicine specialist), O.P. Gupta (medical officer) and Anita Joshi (gynaecologist). “The panel that conducted the post-mortem never mentioned in its short report as well as the detailed one that it was a case of suicide,” Dr. Purohit said adding that they found nail marks on her face.

Namrata’s death was being investigated by India Today journalist Akshay Singh who died suddenly after speaking to her father and obtaining some documents. The Madhya Pradesh police have now also ordered a review of the case.

Jabalpur Bench to wait for SC ruling

Meanwhile, the Jabalpur Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday refused to hear the government’s plea for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the Vyapam scam. The court said it will wait for the Supreme Court ruling on various petitions making the same plea. The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on July 9 on four petitions.

On Thursday, the apex court will also hear a case that seeks the removal of Ram Naresh Yadav as Madhya Pradesh Governor. Mr. Yadav is alleged to have major links to the scam but has been protected from investigation thus far by ‘constitutional immunity’ as long as he holds the post of Governor. Documents uncovered on Wednesday showed that he was actually named as an accused by the police in one of the cases relating to the scam.

Input with PTI/IANS/ANI

Top developments:


1Police ordered a review of the suspicious death of MBBS student Namrata Damor. Her body was found near railway tracks in the Ujjain district in 2012 after her name figured in the scam. Earlier, police had registered a “murder” case in this regard and later termed the incident as an “accident” and closed the case.
2Buckling under pressure, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made a U-turn and decided to seek a CBI investigation into the case.Read more
3Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition seeking removal of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav over his alleged involvement in the scam. Read more
4The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party demanded a SC-monitored probe in to the case following the spate of deaths. Read more
5Adding to the string of deaths, the body of trainee sub-inspector Anamika Sikarwar was found in a lake adjacent to the Police Training Academy at Sagar district headquarters in Madhya Pradesh. The Chief Minister quickly denied that the incident was linked to the Vyapam probe.
6Whistleblower Ashish Chaturvedi, 26, claimed that there was a grave threat to his life and accused Mr.Chouhan of being “directly involved” in the scam, a charge rubbished by the CM.
7It came after the unexplained death of journalist Akshay Singh who was covering the scam in Jhabua while Jabalpur Medical College Dean Arun Sharma, probing fake examinees, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a hotel at Dwarka in south-west Delhi. Police on Monday said no foul play was suspected in the death of Sharma .Read more
8Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government cannot direct a High Court or Supreme Court to order a CBI probe into the scam. Read more
9Two senior officers of the Special Task Force (STF) investigating the MPPEB scam claimed to have received threats allegedly from some influential people involved in the racket. Read more
10The scam involves massive irregularities and corruption in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) or MP Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal, abbreviated in Hindi as Vyapam. It has been alleged — by the Congress as well as several social activists — that the corrupt officials at the board took money to compromise the examination and recruitment for several professional course including Pre-Engineering, Pre-Medical, MCA, Teaching etc. The current accusations mostly involve teaching recruitments. Read more