Vyapam Scam: Digvijaya Singh Files Fresh Case Against CM Chouhan and Uma Bharti
Bhopal: Congress on Saturday said that investigating agencies including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are shielding Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from the Vyapam scam even though ‘he is the root of the scam’.
Seeking fresh enquiry in the scam, former chief minister Digvijaya Singh on Wednesday filed a private criminal complaint in the local court of SpecialJudge (Vyapam scam & MP/MLA cases) Suresh Singh against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union minister Uma Bharti, and ex-officers of Indore and Bhopal police, accusing them of tampering with the 27,000 pages of excel sheets that is prime evidence in the Vyapam scam.
On the first hearing of the case, Digvijaya Singh recorded his statement in court and submitted a 57-page complaint, along with 27,000 digital pages of supporting documents connected with the Vyapam scam in which CM Chouhan's name figures 48 times.
Singh deposed for over two hours before Judge Suresh Singh of the Special Court. Former CM Singh was accompanied with senior lawyer and former Union minister Kapil Sibal, senior counsel and Congress leader Vivek Tankha, among other advocates.
The Vyapam scam refers to irregularities in exams held by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, also called Vyavasayik Pareeksha Mandal or Vyapam, for admission in professional courses and state services. Till now, around 300 people have been caught under the scam and 45 deaths have been reported who were directly or indirectly connected with the scam.
Addressing the media after the court proceedings, former Union Minister and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal said, “We decided to file a private complaint in the local court as we lost faith in the investigating agencies (CBI, SIT) who gave a clean chit to CM Chouhan in Vyapam scam, who is the kingpin of the scam.”
Singh’s lawyers Ajay Gupta, Vaibhav Shrivastava and former Congress state spokesperson K. K. Mishra filed the case. They have named 22 ‘witnesses’. The police officers named as accused in the complaint are the then IG (Indore) Vipin Maheshwari; then ASP Indore crime branch Dilip Soni; then SSP Bhopal, Shrinivas Verma; then ASP Bhopal, Shailendra Singh Chouhan; and ASP Bhopal, APS Chouhan.
According to advocate Ajay Gupta, Digvijaya’s complaint alleges the involvement of Chouhan and Uma Bharti in the Vyapam Scam as their names were “written in the ‘Remarks Column’ of the excel sheets present in the hard disk of the computer owned by Nitin Mohindra, principal programme analyst at Vyapam on July 18, 2013”.
When questioned that whether the affidavit that the CBI had submitted before the Supreme Court was biased, Sibal replied, “Yes, certainly, it was.”
He said, “On July 17, 2013, the Indore police seized the hard disk from Mohindra’s computer but did not mention it in the record. The police went to a computer expert Prabhat Pandey under political pressure to alter the hard disk and removed the CM’s name which was mentioned 48 times in the excel sheet. Interestingly, computer expert Pandey saved the original file. The police then presented the seizure of the hard disk in Bhopal only a day after it was originally seized.”
Sibal also said, “We sent Prabhat Pandey’s copied file and CBI’s file to the Truth Lab of Bangalore (submitted by Digvijaya Singh in court) run by the former Supreme Court justice, the report of which categorically states that the excel sheet was tampered with after seizure by police officials.”
Moreover, in a complaint to the court, Digivijaya Singh alleged that the affidavit of clean chit filed by CBI before Supreme Court in November 2016 was a false one. The report of CFSL-Hyderabad, on the basis of which it was filed, was prepared in December 2016 — much after the alleged clean chit, it says.
Singh’s advocate Gupta argues that if former minister Laxmikant Sharma can be made an accused in the Vyapam scam on basis of his entry in the excel sheet, then why not Uma Bharti, “whose name is also present in the excel sheet”. CBI has not included Uma Bharti’s name in the chargesheet, and has said there is no reason for her name to be on it.
Later on the same day, BJP leader and cabinet minister Narottam Mishra refuted Congress’ allegation calling it a political stunt.
Addressing the media after Congress’ claim he said, “Several investigating agencies have given a clean chit to CM Chouhan in the Vyapam case but the Congress is intentionally dragging his name to get political benefit weeks before the assembly election. In doing so, Congress is wasting the court’s time.”
Earlier, the Special Task Force (STF) had investigated the scam. In 2016, the Supreme Court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the Vyapam scam, whereby the central agency had given Chouhan a clean chit.
Later, in October 2017, the CBI had also ruled out tampering of the hard disk and mentioned it in its affidavit on the basis of the report submitted by the CBI in the court.
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