The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which was asked to investigate the Vyapam scam more than six months ago in July last year, is yet to do anything substantive in the case, leading to questions about the intent of the agency.
Whistleblowers in the case and the affected parties whom The Sunday Guardian spoke to, said that the agency was merely “killing its time” and was yet to take any concrete steps towards unravelling the mystery behind the Vyapam scam.
Dr Anand Rai, a key whistleblower in the scam, said that he was disappointed with the way the CBI was refusing to move ahead. “So many of my complaints related to the scam are pending with the agency, including filling of over 700 medical seats in private colleges through fraudulent means, but till now I have not been summoned even once for appearing before the agency. Last week, I submitted a sworn affidavit stating that a key evidence of the case (a hard disk) was seen in the possession of a senior police official and a senior IAS officer who are not investigating the scam, when officially it was supposed to be in the ‘maal-khana’ (storage) of the police. But the agency did not accept the affidavit. Practically, the CBI has not moved even one step in the case, though they may claim otherwise. Only those who are economically weaker have been questioned, but none of the affluent people or babus have been grilled. What kind of investigation is the agency doing?” Rai asked.
Even the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in the second week of January, came down on the agency for failing to present the status report on investigations. Questioning the laxity of the agency, the HC also questioned the agency on why the appointment of public prosecutors was still not done in the subordinate courts that were hearing the cases due to which the trial was getting delayed.
Emails sent to the CBI spokesperson seeking the agency’s response to this report went unanswered until the time of going to the press.
Prashant Pandey, another key whistleblower in the case, said that the evidence that was submitted by him to the agency was not even “touched” till now. “They have still not examined the evidences that were submitted to the court by me. Unless and until they take possession of the evidences, how can they confront those who are accused in the case? They told me that it is a lengthy process and will take time,” Pandey said, adding that the CBI had recently asked him to move to the court seeking directions that the agency should also question the Madhya Pradesh STF and the local police, which they felt was an important part to unravel the scam.
“I got the hint that their bosses are not allowing them (CBI investigators) to question the local police. I feel that rather than working on the investigation, they are just killing their time in Bhopal. The CBI chided me for speaking to the media,” he said. He confessed that since it was the whistleblowers who themselves had requested for the CBI inquiry, it had become difficult for them to speak against the agency for its lackadaisical approach.
Bhopal-based Ajay Dubey, who brought to the fore many different aspects of the scam through a series of RTI applications, too, said that the CBI was yet to move an inch in its investigation. “We are sitting here and monitoring the investigation at our level, but very sadly the agency seems to have come under some sort of political pressure and hence is just beating around the bush, rather than acting on the trove of evidences it has under its custody,” he said.
The father of a student who is accused of getting his son fraudulently admitted in a medical college said that while those who allegedly paid for the seats were being “harassed”, the CBI was yet to question the top government officials and politicians who were part of the nexus. “Punish me if it is proved that my son got the seat fraudulently, but punish even those who played the role of facilitator. Has the agency questioned any senior bureaucrat or politician?” he asked. When the CBI started the probe last year, it had found evidence suggesting that at least 12 bureaucrats involved in the scam had opened bank accounts in foreign countries. These officers were dealing with the probe in the scam or had worked in the Professional Examination Board (PEB) or Vyapam, but none hasbeen grilled.