The Supreme Court has refused relief to the MBBS students, who obtained admission using unfair means in the entrance examination conducted by Vyapam in Madhya Pradesh. The admission of 634 students in the five-year-MBBS course stands cancelled now.
The apex court upheld the cancellation of admission of 634 students of the five-year MBBS course as these had been obtained through unfair means under what has now come to be known as the Vyapam scam.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said the case presented before it by the students warranted no interference into an earlier order by the top court under Article 142.
The Supreme Court had, in 2016, cancelled the admissions made between 2008 and 2012 after irregularities had surfaced. It was found that board allowed candidates to use impersonators to take their tests for a fee.
The two-judge bench, however, was split on the future of the students with one judge recommending leniency. But on Monday, the SC declined to show any sympathy.
In 2013, soon after the scam broke, the PEB carried out an internal investigation and identified 634 students, who it felt had used unfair means like copying to get admission in the MBBS course.
Most of these students had obtained admission in private medical colleges and more than 400 had already passed their course while the remaining candidates were in various stages of it.
During the internal investigations, officials at the PEB analysed OMR sheets of all candidates, who had taken the Pre-Medical Test from 2008 to 2013 and identified such aspirants, who they felt had copied answers from other candidates sitting around them.
"We found a pattern and identified such cases where wrong answers were in common," said an official at the PEB who was part of the investigation.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court had earlier upheld that this was a case of mass-copying and admissions in such cases can be cancelled. Many affected students had then filed petitions in the Supreme Court.
The lid on the racket was blown in May 2012 when an invigilator at a test for veterinary colleges realised that one of the candidates was not who he claimed to be. The photo ID card did not match the person who was taking the exam. On investigation, the police found a long trail, spreading across various districts in the state, reported The Indian Express.
The scam came to light in July 2013 and was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2015.
Since then, the investigation agency has registered 112 cases against more than 2,000 accused, including high-level officials and politicians. Madhya Pradesh governor Ram Naresh Yadav had also been booked by the Special Task Force in connection with a forest guard recruitment scam conducted by Vyapam in 2015. However, his gubernatorial post provided him immunity against criminal prosecution.
So far, several people connected to the scam have died under mysterious circumstances. While the CBI is probing 17 deaths, the STF has held that 25 people have died, reported the Hindustan Times. It is widely believed that the number of deaths in connection with the scam are actually much higher.
The mysterious deaths of middlemen and witnesses in the case gained national attention after the death of a journalist who was investigating the scam. A 38-year-old reporter for Aaj Tak had died on 4 July, 2015, only hours after he interviewed the family of a girl who had links to the scam and who also died under mysterious circumstances, according to The News Minute.
In January, the CBI got the Centre's approval to set up a second Anti-Corruption Zone, primarily to expedite investigations and trials in the scam.
The bench's order came on a reference made to it by a two-judge bench, which in May 2016 struck down the admissions.
The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (PEB) or Vyapam had in 2013 initiated a process of identifying and cancelling admission of students based on its own investigations.
The students, who were affected, had joined the course between 2008 and 2013.