Bhopal: The CBI on Monday took over the probe in the Vyapam scam, the massive admission and recruitment scandal, which has rocked Madhya Pradesh and dented the credibility of the state's BJP government.
Getting down to business, a CBI team led by a Joint Director-level officer from the agency's headquarters in Delhi began preliminary consultations with MP police's Special Task Force (STF), which hitherto investigated the numerous cases related to the scam.
Sources in the premier probe agency said it would make an assessment of the enormity of the scam before launching fresh investigation.
The STF was probing the cases under day-to-day monitoring by the MP High Court-appointed Special Investigating Team before CBI was asked to step in following a huge public and political outcry over a number of deaths of people linked to the scam, some of them unexplained.
Congress, which led the opposition attack on the state's BJP government led by three-term Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has claimed 49 people associated with Vyapam in some way have died under mysterious circumstances, though official figure stands at 25.
The 40-member CBI contingent headed by Joint Director R P Agarwal held discussions with Sudhir Sahi, head of the STF.
The STF under Sahi has been probing the case since August 2013. In November last year, the Madhya Pradesh High Court constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the chairmanship of former High Court judge Chandresh Bhushan to supervise the investigation.
CBI Director Anil Sinha, sources said, was himself monitoring the developments in the case with assistance from two Additional Directors R K Dutta and Y C Modi.
Agarwal, a 1986 batch Assam-Meghalya cadre IPS officer, is posted as Joint Director, anti-corruption department, at the CBI Headquarters.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu had on July 9 transferred the probe of all Vyapam cases, including the related deaths, to CBI, which was directed to take over the probe today.
The premier investigative agency has been asked to file its report to the apex court on July 24 when it is likely to take a call on monitoring the investigation as demanded by some petitioners including Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.
The scam involves professionals, high-profile politicians and bureaucrats with hundreds of people including aspirants and their parents in jail. Former MP Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma and several top bureaucrats are also behind the bars.
The role of MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav has also come under cloud for allegedly favouring some aspirants. The STF had registered an FIR against him but the High Court quashed it citing immunity from criminal prosecution he enjoys in office. Supreme Court has also issued notices to Yadav and the Centre and state governments on petitions seeking his removal from the post.
Yadav's son Shailesh, an accused in one of the Vyapam cases, had died mysteriously at his father's Lucknow residence in March this year.