Why Digvijaya is in trouble: the case against him in MP recruitment scam
- Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh appeared in a Bhopal court on Saturday
- The previous day, the court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him
- The case relates to an alleged recruitment scam at the MP Assembly Secretariat in 2003
- At the time, Digvijaya was the CM of Madhya Pradesh, and is one of 19 accused
More in the story
- Why has this scam surfaced after so many years?
- Vyapam whistleblowers allege that this shows the BJP\'s political malice and double standards
An alleged scam from 13 years ago has come back to haunt Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh.
The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister appeared before Bhopal's Special District and Sessions court on Saturday, 27 February, after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him a day earlier.
The warrant was served in connection with an alleged recruitment scam at the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Secretariat during Singh's tenure as CM, from 1993 to 2003.
The court had issued the warrant against Singh, an accused in the case, as he had failed to turn up for hearing. Although he was granted bail after he appeared along with his lawyer Vivek Tankha, this was not not the first time his name has come up in connection with the case.
Here is a look at what the case is all about and what activists in the state have to say about it.
What is the scam all about?
Seventeen persons were said to be illegally appointed in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Secretariat between 2003 and 2013. These appointments were apparently done in violation of the Assembly's rules of recruitment.
Along with these 17 employees, Singh and the then-Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, Sriniwas Tiwari, are the accused in the case.
Most of these accused were appointed on ad-hoc basis as personal staff to Tiwari, and later sent on deputation to other departments. Their services were later regularised and merged with regular staff. The alleged beneficiaries of the scam include former principal secretary of the Vidhan Sabha, Dr AK Payasi.
He's accused of being involved in the illegal recruitment of 17 people to the Assembly Secretariat
When did the scam come to light?
When BJP came to power in the state in 2004 under CM Babulal Gaur, the state government set up an inquiry committee under retired Justice Shachindra Dwivedi. The committee gave its report in 2006.
What did the committee say?
The committee held these appointments as illegal, recommending the dismissal of these 17 persons. It also recommended handing over the cases against Tiwari to the CBI.
What action did the state government take?
The state government recommended a CBI probe, but the latter reportedly declined to take over, holding state agencies competent for the same. After that, the matter lay in cold storage for nine years.
When did the police probe in the case begin?
The first FIR in the case was filed only on 28 February 2015, against Singh, Tiwari and 17 others. The deputy secretary of the state Assembly, Shyamlal Maithil, filed the FIR at Jehangirabad police station in Bhopal. The FIR was filed under sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
What do the accused have to say?
Singh says all appointments were made with the approval of the entire state Cabinet as per the book. He last appeared for questioning in October 2015 at the office of the Jehangirabad area city superintendent, where he was questioned for five hours.
What do anti-corruption activists in the state say about the case?
Catch spoke to three activists who are considered whistle-blowers in the Vyapam scam: former Ratlam MLA (Independent) Paras Saklecha, Indore-based medical professional Dr Anand Rai and Gwalior-based Ashish Chaturvedi.
Saklecha was of the opinion that while all illegal appointments, whether under Vyapam or in the Assembly, should be looked into and the guilty punished, the government must answer why was the issue suppressed for nearly 10 years. He alleges that it looks like the latest action in the case is motivated by political malice.
Rai too asked the state government if it was sleeping for 13 years.
"Why did it not initiate proceedings against the guilty and prosecute them as soon the report of the committee came out?" he asked.
The state government recommended a CBI probe, but the latter reportedly declined to take over
Rai also believes that the arrest warrant against Singh is the government's attempt to scare the opposition into silence, as it appears inspired by Singh's complaints in the Vyapam scam.
Chaturvedi told Catch he saw this as an example of the state government's double standards, as there are many similar allegations of illegal appointments against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and many of his ministers, but no action has been taken in those cases.
Chaturvedi said he himself was the complainant in one such case, in which an FIR was lodged in September 2015 in Gwalior against the illegal appointment of Dr ID Chaurasiya as Assistant Professor at Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal. No action has been taken till now in this case, in which the CM is one of the accused, he said.
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