By Sidhartha Dutta
New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had hastily ordered the appointment of Malay Rai as Madhya Pradesh State Finance Commission member over the phone, an RTI query has revealed.
Rai was chairman of the MP professional examination board, or Vyapam, in 2009-10, and the order (dated June 6, 2014) was issued even as the Vyapam scam was being investigated.
Chouhan was on one of his foreign tours in June 2014 when he made the urgent call to the state finance department.
This was revealed in an RTI reply given by the State Finance Department, to whistleblower Ajay Dubey. The RTI reply stated that the CM approved the proposal for the appointment on phone, subject to formal confirmation on his return from his trip overseas.
A copy of the State Finance department order has been provided in the RTI reply. The reply also said that the tenure of the finance commission will be up to June 30, 2015.
Dubey told IANS that he would be filing one of several petitions in the Supreme Court regarding this.
“What was the urgency in issuing the order telephonically? Our contention is that how can the state government appoint the former chairman of Vyapam to the finance commission when the examination board itself is under investigation, he said, adding that none of the officials of the board has yet got a clean chit.
Dubey also said that After the Vyapam question paper leaks in 2008 and 2009, the state government in 2010 had recruited central observers, including retired IAS, IFS and IPS officers and retired persons from academic field to observe and monitor the scanning of answer sheets.
“From 2010 till date about 500 central observers have been recruited by the state to monitor scanning of sheets, but still there have been irregularities. The scam hasn’t stopped with regard to the recruitment of professionals,” said Dubey
The MP Board, also known as Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or Vyapam conducts examinations to recruit government employees in the state and holds admission tests for medical courses.
It has been mired in controversies for years, but it eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examinations.
This was followed by arrests of the state’s ex-education minister Laxmikant Sharma, bureaucrats, Vyapam officials, racketeers, middlemen, candidates and their parents after the Special Task Force (STF) was established in August 2013.
More than 2.000 had been arrested so far in connection with the scam. According to reports, the admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh could be pegged at Rs.20,000 crore involving about 30,000 people.
Forty-five associated with the Vyapam scam have died – mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances.
(Sidhartha Dutta can be contacted at [email protected])
Indo-Asian News Service