In a surprising twist, the CBI told the Supreme Court that it would take action against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh for making false allegations against the CM
~By Rakesh Dixit in Bhopal
The ongoing CBI probe into Vyapam, the job-cum-admission racket, has taken an interesting turn and zeroed in on senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and whistleblower Prashant Pandey, while giving a clean chit to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The CBI told the Supreme Court of its intention to take action against both of them for “making false allegations and creating false documents”. The apex court is, however, yet to take a call on the CBI affidavit in this connection.
It was on July 9, 2015, that the Supreme Court through an order in Digvijaya Singh vs State of MP & others transferred the investigation of criminal cases related to Vyapam to the CBI, including the murders of those allegedly linked to the scam. A similar petition was filed by Pandey.
The petitioners alleged that an excel sheet in the hard disk retrieved from the computer of Vyapam chief system analyst Nitin Mahindra had the word “CM” against the names of at least 40 illegal appointees in the teacher recruitment test. The petitioners alleged that the MP police removed the references to the CM and replaced them with that of Uma Bharti and entries titled “Raj Bhawan”. Mahindra used to maintain diaries with the entries of candidates of various admission and recruitment tests against those who had recommended their names.
The alleged tampering, according to the petitioners, happened in Indore soon after the lid on the scam was blown off on July 13, 2013 with the arrest of 12 impersonators who would take the test the next day. Pandey claimed that he had copied a mirror image of the original excel sheet before it was tampered with and produced it as evidence. Pandey, a cyber expert, was drafted by the police to help decode the documents in the computers used in this scam. Based on his “evidence”, Digvijaya Singh had in February 2015 claimed to be in possession of a pen drive that purportedly contained an exchange of messages between Chouhan and some of the Vyapam accused.
However, the CBI informed the Supreme Court on December 15 last year that the hard disk and pen drive which was sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad, for scrutiny suggested no tampering. In response, the Supreme Court told it to submit the sealed laboratory report before the trial court and said it would not monitor the scam further as investigations in most of the 170 cases associated with the scam had been completed.
On May 3 this year, the CBI in its affidavit through advocate R Balasubramanian reiterated before the Court that “the allegations of tampering of the seized hard disk were false and that some of these persons making such allegations were found to be indulging in creation of false digital records in the pen drive and on that basis, making false complaints”. It said it would be taking steps against the culprits in accordance with the law.
The CBI contention prompted three MP ministers—Dr Narottam Mishra, Bhupendra Singh and Vishwas Sarang—to demand a criminal case against Digvijaya Singh, Pandey and another whistleblower, Dr Anand Rai, for making false allegations against the chief minister. They called on CBI DIG Tarun Gaba, who is heading the probe, and urged him to book the “culprits” under Sections 120B, 182, 192, 195, 465 and 468 for criminal conspiracy, forgery, and fabrication of false evidence. Digvijaya Singh said he welcomed the demand for his arrest but this would not deter him from taking the fight against the accused to its logical conclusion.
MP Congress spokesperson KK Mishra termed the visit of the three ministers at the CBI office in Bhopal and their demand as a direct political interference in the working of the premier investigation agency.
Dr Anand Rai has threatened to sue the three for defaming him, saying the affidavit submitted by the CBI before the SC did not mention his name at all. “I am not going to be perturbed by any pressures and threats and will fight till my last breath to ensure that all the authors of the Vyapam scam finally end up in jail one day,” Rai wrote on his Facebook page.
Pandey, meanwhile, has threatened the CBI and asked it to withdraw the affidavit mentioning his name or else he would move court against it. In a letter to the CBI director, Pandey said the affidavit is a clear violation of the Supreme Court direction that the veracity of the CFSL report is a subject matter of the CBI court.
Incidentally, in nearly two years, the CBI has not made much headway in the scam. It has failed to track down almost half of the 2,000 suspects and investigations into nearly 50 of the total 150 cases have hit a dead-end.
It is a murky affair, no doubt.