PEB scam: STF to quiz former bureaucrat now a member of Central Administrative Tribunal
Bhopal: Latest reports relating to the massive Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (PEB) scam indicate that a team of Special Task Force of State Police would be going to Hyderabad to question Ranjana Chowdhary, retired IAS officer borne on the Madhya Pradesh cadre. She earlier headed the PEB and is now Member (A) at the Hyderabad bench of Central Administrative Tribunal.
Former examination controller of Madhya Pradesh professional Examination Board (PEB) Pankaj Trivedi, who is a principal accused in the massive PEB scam, had given a statement to the STF more than a year ago alleging that from the money collected from students to guarantee their selection, he had given Rs. 42 lakh to a senior IAS officer earlier heading the Board.
After taking cognizance of a series of frauds linked with PEB involved in milk federation, police and contractual teacher recruitments and the conduct of PMT examination, the STF had registered nine separate FIRS against several senior PEB officers and former Madhya Pradesh Higher Education minister Laxmikant Sharma and all of them are now in jail.
Pankaj Trivedi’s statement forms part of the 700 page challan put up in a court here on January 22, 2014. Trivedi had told the STF that he had received Rs. 75 lakh from Nitin Mahindra, who was the PEB computer section in-charge. From this amount, he had given Rs. 42 lakh to Ms. Ranjana Chowdhary, who was chairperson of PEB for more than two years between February 2010 and June 2012. About the remaining amount he told STF that it was handed over to his wife.
When the deputy superintendent of Police (STF) D.S. Baghel was contacted (January 2014), he had said: “it beats imagination why the accused would give such a huge amount to a senior IAS officer a month after she had left the Board.“ At the same time, he also said that Ms. Chowdhary will be interrogated regarding the examinations conducted during her tenure as PEB chairperson. Ms. Chowdhary did not come online when attempts were made to contact her over phone at that stage.
Ms. Choudhary’s backgrounder on the CAT website proclaims that as chairperson of state PEB, she introduced fair, transparent and non-exploitative system of conduct of examinations and initiative had been taken by the Board to cover recruitment to Cass-III and IV posts which comprise more than 70 per cent of the total manpower. In 2012, thirty-one recruitment examinations were conducted in which 35 lakh candidates appeared for about one lakh vacancies and this was an all time high. She has further empasised that all these examinations were conducted smoothly and no untoward incident was reported.
The main opposition Congress has made the PEB scam a major issue against the State BJP Government.