09/07/2015 12:25 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Vyapam Scam Probe Handed Over To CBI By Supreme Court; Notice To MP Govt On Removal Of Governor

STRDEL via Getty Images
Indian Chief Minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chauhan talks to media outside the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi on July 8, 2015. The embattled chief minister of India's Madhya Pradesh state July 7, 2015 asked federal investigators to carry out an independent probe into a jobs scandal after a spate of deaths which opponents have linked to the scam. Nearly 2,000 people have been arrested since 2013 over the so-called Vyapam scandal in which thousands of people are alleged to have paid bribes in return for jobs on the state payroll or for places in educational institutes. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to transfer the investigations into the multi-crore scam to manipulate the results of entrance examinations for government jobs and medical colleges and deaths of various persons linked with it to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The apex court also issued a notice to the Centre, the Madhya Pradesh Government and the Governor on a plea seeking his removal over his alleged involvement in the scandal.

The court's order transferring all Vyapam-related cases to the CBI came after the state government gave its consent to shifting investigation from the Special Investiation Team (SIT) and the Special Task Force (STF).

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu clarified that all cases will be transferred to the CBI from Monday and the agency will file its report before it on July 24.

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Before handing over the probe to the CBI, the apex court took on record the submission of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who on behalf of the MP government, said that the state has no objection on transferring the investigation of cases relating to Vyapam scam to CBI and the cases related to the deaths of people allegedly related to the scam for free and fair probe.

"The Attorney General (AG) on instruction states that MP govt has no objection whatsoever for transferring the investigation of criminal cases relating to Vyapam scam to the CBI and the cases related to deaths of those allegedly connected with the scam for free and fair probe.

"We appreciate the stand of the AG. In view of the above we transfer investigation of all criminal cases relating to Vyapam scam and death of people allegedly related to it, to CBI," the bench also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy directed.

When senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi and Vivek Tanka were assailing the procedure adopted in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the bench interrupted them by saying that the apex court is passing an order, how can the High Court proceed.

"Once CBI comes into the picture, can HC proceed? Obviously no," the bench observed.

While dealing with the matter connected to the Governor, the bench said it was only issuing notice which would be returnable after four weeks time.

The bench also refrained from making any remarks on the Governor when Sibal said that Yadav should demit office to maintain its dignity.

"We are not going to say anything on it," it said.

The apex court was hearing a bunch of petitions including one filed by senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh seeking CBI probe into all cases arising out of the Vyapam scam. The apex court on July 7, had agreed to hear the plea of the Congress leader and three whistleblowers seeking an apex court-monitored CBI probe into the Vyapam scam case.

Singh and whistleblowers -- Chaturvedi, Dr Anand Rai and Pandey -- had moved the apex court seeking a CBI probe under its supervision.

Earlier, a group of lawyers and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kumar Vishwas had moved the court urging it to take cognisance of the scam.

The petition, filed by a group of lawyers, had sought removal of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav on the ground of his alleged involvement in the massive admission and recruitment scam in the state and recording of his statement in the case.

In his petition, AAP leader had urged the apex court to take cognisance of the massive scam, saying 45 people have died in mysterious circumstances in connection with the case.

The apex court had earlier granted four months more time to the SIT, constituted following High Court order, to conclude probe into the case.

The multi-crore rupees professional examination scam, involves several high-profile professionals, politicians and bureaucrats as accused.

The alleged scam involves MPPEB, which holds examinations for various posts such as teachers, medical officers, constables and forest guards.

As soon as Sibal, appearing for Singh, submitted that it is a matter in which who is who of MP is involved, the AG said the state has already moved the high court for CBI probe and the matter is deferred for July 20.

Rohatgi's submission on MP governemnt's stand evoked a quick response from the bench which said, "The High Court wants to wash off its hand."

"On CBI enquiry, instead of doing that, they are now saying that ball is in the Supreme Court," the bench observed.

The AG said, "We have acceded to CBI probe and for it to be monitored by the Supreme Court is entirely upto you (apex court)."

When Sibal was speaking about the magnitude of the scam and seeking short notice saying that everyday people are dying, the bench observed "we would not allow it to go from 36 to 38."

When Sibal said that the deaths have risen to 48, the CJI said "in the petition I see 36."

The bench also took up petitions of two whistleblowers Ashish Kumar Chaturvedi and Prashant Pandey on which notice was issued and kept them for hearing next week.

The apex court de-tagged the petitions of whistleblowers from that concerning the Governor and one filed by Congress leader Digvijay Singh.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for Pandey.

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