In its charge sheet, the CBI said forensic analysis of the hard disk from the recovered computer did not have any mention of the word ‘CM’ on it.
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday charged 490 people, but gave a virtual clean chit to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the multi-crore Vyapam scam from four years ago that affected the lives of thousands of students.
The CBI in its charge sheet, filed before a special CBI court, said a detailed forensic analysis of the hard disk from the recovered computer has revealed that there was no mention of the word ‘CM’ on the disk. CBI officials also claimed there was no truth to allegations that the data files had been tampered with.
Earlier, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and whistle blower Prashant Pandey had alleged that the files seized by the state police from an accused – Nitin Mohindra – had contained the word ‘CM’. They had further accused that the hard disk had been tampered with.
The charge sheet in connection with the scam triggered by the pre-medical test for 2013 listed 490 accused, including three Vyapam officials – Mohindra, Ajay Kumar Sen and C. K. Mishra.
It was alleged that the then systems analyst in Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board – known as Vyapam – Mohindra, had recorded details of payoffs to influential persons in excel sheets on his computer. His computer and hard disc were seized by Indore police on July 18, 2013. The CBI however ruled out any tampering of the hard disc, arguing that it was switched off on July 15, 2013 and its records since not accessed.
“There is no grain of truth in the allegation that the HDD seized on July 18, 2013 from the office of then Principal System Analyst, Vyapam, was tampered,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.
It was alleged that ‘solvers’ were arranged for candidates appearing for pre-medical admission tests conducted by Madhya Pradesh Profession Examination Board for a fee, with the chain of payoffs all the way up to senior functionaries in the government.
Explaining the modus operandi of the Vyapam scam which later led to a string of mysterious deaths, the CBI has said that the collusion of officials facilitated the manipulation of the records in such a manner that roll numbers of candidates were put right after the solver, that was code-named “engine bogey arrangement” – the candidate being the ‘bogey’ and the solver being the ‘engine’. Candidates were seated behind their solvers, so beneficiaries could copy the answers, reported the Hindustan Times.
The solvers were were either MBBS students or bright medical aspirants studying in coaching classes in neighbouring states.
While the CBI managed to get hold of MBBS aspirants who had benefited, it was difficult to track the solvers because of fake addresses in the records.
Using advanced software to identify facial features, the CBI matched the photographs from admit card records to find solvers, and managed to identify 42 of them.
Based on its analysis, 61 ‘engine’ and ‘bogey’ students were named and accused for the first time in the charge sheet filed yesterday, CBI sources said. Guardians of 22 beneficiaries have also been booked in the charge sheet along with one middleman – these names have also been added for the first time.
Digvijaya Singh and Pandey, in separate pleas had alleged, that the word ‘CM’ was mentioned 48 times in an excel file stores on the disk, which later were replaced or deleted.
Dayal said the agency conducted investigations into allegations by Singh and Pandey in their writ petitions filed before the Supreme Court regarding tampering of disc. He also said that excel files provided by Pandey in two pen drives to the Delhi high court and the CBI – to purportedly show alleged tampering – carried “false documents”.
The central forensic science laboratory experts prepared mirror images of the hard disc at the local court on October 29 and 30, 2015, and the process was videographed, Dayal said.
“Two pen drives, one kept in custody of the Delhi high court in a writ petition filed by the private person (Pandey), and the other submitted by him to the CBI in a sealed cover, were also sent to the CFSL, Hyderabad for analysis,” Dayal said. He said the pen drives, as per Pandey’s claims, contained the tampered and untampered versions of the impugned excel file.
After analysis, the CFSL submitted seven reports to the CBI, he said. According to the report, the computer with the hard disc in question was last shut down on July 15, 2013 and no file on the said disc was accessed after it.
“All the five excel files in the pen drive provided by the said private person (Pandey) to the Delhi high court as well as to the CBI, containing reference ‘CM’ in it, were created or last modified on or after July 18, 2013 as per the report of CFSL,” he said.
The CBI spokesperson said the pen drive provided by Pandey to the Delhi high court as well as to the CBI contained “false documents created subsequent to seizure of the hard disc” in question.
The CBI has registered multiple FIRs to investigate the Vyapam case.
(With PTI inputs)