The top echelon of state bureaucracy heaved a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court stayed part of the Allahabad HC order, which had directed the CBI to investigate alleged the malpractices in admission to various courses in ‘Ayush’ colleges in UP. A report by Mudit Mathur
The top echelon of state bureaucracy heaved a sigh of relief after the vacation bench of the Supreme Court stayed part of the Allahabad High Court order, which had directed the CBI to investigate alleged malpractices in admission to various courses in ‘Ayush’ colleges in the state in 2019.
A Supreme Court vacation bench of justices Dipankar Datta and Manoj Misra on an appeal by the state government issued notice which was limited to the question of examining the propriety of the direction of the High Court to order investigation by the CBI. The order was challenged on the grounds that court had exceeded its jurisdiction in exercising its inherent powers “conferred by Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482 Cr.PC.”
The Bench further directed that “there shall be stay of operation of the order of the High Court directing CBI investigation until further orders.”
Appearing for the state government, Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj, assisted by Ruchira Goel, advocate on record, argued that the High Court has transgressed its jurisdiction as a Bail Court under Section 439 of the Cr. PC.
He argued that the decision was in the teeth of a recent Supreme Court decision rendered in the matter of Inspector of Police v. M. Murugesan and Another. (2020) 15 SCC 251, wherein under similar circumstances, the apex court held that “the jurisdiction of the High Court came to an end when an application for grant of bail under Section 439 of the Cr.PC was finally decided.”
On May 24th, a single-judge Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, Justice Rajeev Singh granted bail to one accused Dr Ritu Garg. By the same order, the High Court, in exercise of its inherent powers “conferred by Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482 Cr. P.C” directed the CBI to undertake investigation of the scam that resulted in admission of undeserving students in various medical courses.
The state government had filed Special Leave Petition before the apex court on technical grounds challenging the May 24 order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court asking the CBI to file a case and probe allegations of bribery against former Uttar Pradesh Ayush minister Dharam Singh Saini, the then additional chief secretary, Ayush department, Prashant Trivedi and others. The high court had also asked the CBI to submit a status report in the matter by August 1.
While ordering CBI probe the high court had noted the investigating officer had recorded detailed statement of one of the accused Dr Umakant Singh, who had categorically spoken about corruption in the 2019 admissions and claimed while Saini had taken a bribe of Rs 35 lakh and Additional Chief Secretary1989 batch IAS Prashant Trivedi had pocketed Rs 25 lakh at their residences. Though Trivedi had unblemished career but at the fag-end of his services this month he suffered irreparable loss to his reputation.
The unexpected development triggered a scary situation among the top bureaucracy of the Yogi government. Soon after the court’s orders, Trivedi was divested of the important charge of Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) and posted as chairman UPSRTC.
Initially, when the scam surfaced last year, the state government on November 8th, referred the Ayush admission anomalies scam for a CBI probe looking into its nationwide ramifications. Therefore, the sudden change in stance of the government by taking a U-turn on the issue has puzzled the political circles.
In November last year, a major scam broke out in Uttar Pradesh in granting admission to hundreds of ineligible candidates, who appeared in the online counselling process to join Ayurvedic, Homoeopathic and Unani medical courses in the various government and private colleges, fudging and corrupting the merit list declared after National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for 2021-2022 session. Even 22 candidates who did not appear in NEET got admission in some of the good colleges. The government suspended 891 such students who failed to score necessary cut-off marks in NEET but maliciously manoeuvred admissions, marred with a deeply rooted scam. It was seen as a major blow to the much-hyped plank of corruption-free governance in the BJP-ruled state.