New Delhi/Bhopal: The Supreme Court on Thursday told the CBI to probe the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh including the over 40 deaths linked to it. The BJP welcomed the ruling even as the Congress and the CPI-M sought Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's resignation.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that he has instructions from the Madhya Pradesh government to let the CBI take charge of the sensational case.
The court said: "The AG ... says the state of Madhya Pradesh has no objection whatsoever for transferring investigation into criminal cases related to Vyapam scam to the CBI and also the cases related to the deaths ... for (a) fair and impartial investigation.
"In view of the above, we transfer investigation of the criminal cases relating to Vyapam scam and the deaths to the CBI from Monday."
On the plea seeking the Supreme Court's monitoring of the CBI probe, the court said it will take a call after hearing from the investigating agency on July 24.
Vyapam (Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal) conducts recruitment and entrance exams not done by the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission. The Vyapam scam came to light in 2013 and has since assumed mind-boggling proportions, leading to the arrest of nearly 2,100 people.
The Supreme Court also issued notice to the central and Madhya Pradesh governments and Governor Ram Naresh Yadav on a plea challenging the state high court order quashing a FIR against the governor for his alleged role in the recruitment of forest guards.
The high court has said the governor enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
Hours after the apex court verdict, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused him of shielding the Madhya Pradesh chief minister.
"The prime minister said (during the Lok Sabha election campaign) that he will neither indulge in corruption nor let anyone be corrupt. Why is he backing leaders in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh?" Gandhi asked here.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vaddakan said Chouhan should quit for the sake of a proper investigation. "The message from the Supreme Court is clear."
As both Chouhan and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) insisted that it was the chief minister who wanted the CBI in, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said Chouhan should have gone for a CBI probe two years back.
Meanwhile, the death of one more person connected with the Vyapam scam came to light in Bhopal.
The Special Task Force presented the death certificate of Sanjay Yadav, one of the accused-turned-witnesses, to a court.
On Wednesday, the STF court in Bhopal was told that Yadav died two months ago in a private hospital in Bhopal after prolonged illness.
BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli welcomed the apex court decision for a CBI probe and said it was an endorsement of the Madhya Pradesh government's demand.
Chouhan said in Bhopal that he was feeling relieved and wanted the truth to come out.
He said "an impression was being created across the country that Madhya Pradesh had become a land of murders".
The Communist Party of India-Marxist also asked Chouhan to resign if "an impartial investigation" has to be held into the Vyapam scam.