In the backdrop of the recurring and unexplained deaths of those connected with the Vyapam scam probe, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a petition seeking the removal of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, amid allegations of his involvement in the multi-crore educational-cum-recruitment scam.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, scheduled the case for hearing on July 9.
The apex court has, significantly, agreed to look into the larger issue — whether a ‘tainted’ Governor can be allowed to continue discharging constitutional duties and in what circumstances the Union Government can ask the President to withdraw the consent for his continuance.
Petition seeks withdrawal of President’s pleasure
The petition against Mr. Yadav, filed in the Supreme Court by five Gwalior-based advocates, has arraigned as parties the State government, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Governor himself.
It contended that a “tainted” Governor could not be allowed to discharge constitutional functions, which includes all wings of governance — executive, legislative, judicial, financial or discretionary — in Madhya Pradesh. It wanted the apex court to direct the MHA to move a proposal for “withdrawal of pleasure” of the President under Article 156 (1) of the Constitution, thus facilitating the removal of the Governor.
According to the petition, likely to be represented by former Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha, the allegation against the Governor is that he had recommended names of five candidates for selection as forest guards by resorting to “unfair means in the examination conducted by Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board [Vyapam examination] and therefore had committed the alleged offence of being a party to the conspiracy along with the other co-accused.”
The petition also pointed out that the Governor’s son had died in mysterious circumstances in March 2015 and his OSD was arrested by the Special Task Force in connection with the scam investigation in the same month. It stated that an FIR was lodged against the Governor for cheating, conspiracy among other offences under the Indian Penal Code, along with offences under the Information Technology Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
However, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on May 5, 2015 quashed this FIR solely on the ground that a sitting Governor enjoyed “constitutional immunity” and can only be prosecuted after he vacates office.
“It is submitted that this court must lay down guidelines, in terms of the Constitutional Assembly Debates, explaining the circumstances under which the President must withdraw his pleasure under Article 156(1) of the Constitution,” the petition said.
“There must be a CBI probe. It is not a coincidence that all the accused are dying of one ailment or another. There is something more to it.” - Prashant Pandey, forensic expert and one of the whistle-blowers who exposed the scam
- » The Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh dates back to 2007, with investigations in the case starting after some details came to light in 2013.
- » It has been alleged by the Congress as well as several social activists that the officials took money to compromise the examination and recruitment.
- » It is also known as the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam.
- »Editorial:>The Vyapam scam trail
- » Congress leaders openly accused MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife of being involved in the scam. Later, they submitted the "original evidence".
- » Earlier this year, Chief Minister Chouhan claimed in a >letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi that the developments regarding the Vyapam scam provided proof of his honesty as he was the one who ordered a probe into it.
- »> Here are five things you need to know about Vyapam Scam.
College dean found dead
Dr. Arun Sharma, the dean of a Jabalpur-based medical college was found dead.
A journalist died soon after interviewing the parents of a girl who was accused in the scam and had died in suspicious circumstances.
The Madhya Pradesh govt. rejected a demand for CBI probe.
Another Vyapam scam accused dies in MP
Narendra Singh Tomar died under mysterious circumstances in an Indore jail.
FIR against M.P. Governor quashed
High Court held that he enjoyed immunity while in office.
Governor's son found dead
Shailesh Yadav, one of the accused in the scam, was found dead under mysterious circumstances.
Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav's involvement
The Special Task Force probed the alleged involvement of Governor Ram Naresh Yadav.
He was found dead at his home in Lucknow in March. He was accused of taking money to help 10 candidates from Bhind clear the examination for contractual teachers.
Dean of Jabalpur Medical College, who was also allegedly linked to the scam, died of burns under suspicious circumstances
Akshay Singh, who worked for TV Today group, fell ill and died soon after interviewing parents of a girl who was an accused and had herself died in suspicious circumstances.
Media reports said he was probing fake examinees in the Vyapam Scam. He was found dead in a hotel in Delhi.