This article was written by Kriti Bhatia student of University Institute of Legal Studies, Punjab University
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”– A.P.J Abdul Kalam
The lines stated above are of our 11th President Dr .A.P.J Abdul Kalam where he clearly insists on the role of parents and teachers- calling them the key members of society, for shaping the future of our nation, but what if these key societal members only get involved in corruption, will our nation still succeed? Well the answer is pretty obvious. No, it will not and how shameful it is to say that this is what happening in our nation. Our education system is being paralyzed by corruption which is hampering the growth. The most shameful example of such corruption is The Vyapam Scam.
The Vyapam scam is an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), popularly known by its Hindi acronym “Vyapam” (Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal), is a self-financed and autonomous body incorporated by the State government responsible for conducting several entrance tests in the state. These entrance exams are held for recruitment in government jobs and admissions in educational institutes of the state.
The Vyapam scam involved collusion among exam candidates, government officials and middlemen: undeserving candidates were offered high marks in the exams, in exchange of kickbacks. These tricks were used by those involved in the scam.
o Brilliant students (including previous years’ top candidates) or practicing doctors would be paid to impersonate exam candidates. The photograph on the candidate’s admit card was replaced by the impersonator’s photograph. After the exam, it was changed back to the original. This was done in collusion with the corrupt board officials.
o Undeserving candidates bribed the board officials through middlemen to be seated strategically next to a brilliant dummy candidate, who was also paid money. The dummy candidate let them copy from his sheet or exchanged the sheet at the end of the exam.
· Manipulation of records and answer sheets
o The undeserving candidates would leave their OMR answer sheets blank or fill in only the answers they were sure about. The corrupt board officials would manipulate records to give these candidates randomly high percentages. To avoid being caught in case of an audit, they would file an RTI request demanding to view these answer sheets, and fill in the answers according to the marks.
· Leaking the answer key
o The corrupt board officials leaked the answer key to the selected candidates.
Cases of irregularities in these entrance tests had been reported since the mid-1990s, and the first FIR was filed in 2000. However, until 2009, such cases were not thought to be part of an organized ring. When major complaints surfaced in the pre-medical test (PMT) in 2009, the state government established a committee to investigate the matter. The committee released its report in 2011, and over a hundred people were arrested by the police.
The scale of the scam came to light in 2013, when the Indore police arrested 20 people who had come to impersonate candidates for PMT 2009. The interrogation of these people led to the arrest of Jagdish Sagar– the leader of an organized racket involved in the scam. The state government established a Special Task Force (STF) on 26 August 2013. Subsequent interrogations and arrests uncovered the involvement of several politicians, bureaucrats, MPPEB officials, racket leaders, middlemen, candidates and their parents in the scam. By June 2015, more than 2000 people had been arrested in connection with the scam. These included the state’s ex-education minister Laxmikant Sharma, O. P. Shukla– posted as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) with the then Technical Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma, Sudhir Sharma-A mining businessman, once an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of the education minister Laxmikant Sharma, R. K. Shivhare, Suspended IPS Officer, Ravikant Dwivedi, Suspended Joint Commissioner (Revenue), Dr Sanjeev Shilpakar, Sudhir Rai, Santosh Gupta, Tarang Sharma, Pankaj Trivedi, MPPEB Examination Controller ,CK Mishra, Officer, Vyapam, Nitin Mohindra / Nitin Mahendra (Principal System Analyst) and Ajay Sen (Senior System Analyst) and more.
Besides the arrest, many people died during the investigation. According to the sources, 23 people are believed to have died an “unnatural death”. According to the STF, most of these deaths took place before it took over the investigation in July 2013. Some media reports claimed that 40+ people associated with the scam had died under mysterious circumstances.
Many interim orders have been passed by the Courts in the Vyapam scam as follows.
· In July 2015, the Supreme Court of India issued an order to transfer the case to the country’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and asked it to file a reply within two weeks. A three-judge bench, comprising the CJI H.L. Dattu, Justices Amitabh Roy and Arun Kumar Mishra, asked the CBI to probe the multi-crore Vyapam scam and the ‘mysterious deaths’ in connection to it.
· The apex court also issued notice to the Central government, Madhya Pradesh state and the Governor Ram Naresh Yadav after hearing the petition file by Sanjay Shukla, who sought the removal of the Governor in the case.
· The apex court passed an interim order after seeing the enormity and magnitude of the offence committed by the accused person in the case.
The court has fixed July 24 as the next date of hearing in the case.
There are four to five other petitioners who also wanted a CBI probe monitored by the apex court. One of the petitioners, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who was present in the Court, also sought an impartial CBI probe into the matter.
The Vyapam Scam is an epitome of corruption and can be regarded as the most shameful case in the history of Indian Education System and this should not be encouraged as it amounts to the inequality which our constitution is also against off.