Former Higher Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma has been booked by the Special Task Force (STF) in connection with a scam in the appointment of contractual teachers (Grade I and II).
Sharma was an important functionary in the previous two terms of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government,holding key portfolios like mining,public relations and culture,but lost the recent Assembly election from Sironj constituency in Vidisha district.
The development is a fallout of the STF investigation into the ongoing Pre-Medical Test (PMT) scam.
Conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB),candidates who appeared for the PMT over the past few years are under the scanner with several top MPPEB officials already in jail. During interrogation of MPPEB officials,the STF had stumbled upon several scams that involved manipulation of results of examinations conducted by the board. Candidates who had paid money would be selected by tampering with computer data but in the case of candidates recommended by the minister no money was paid because the top board officials owed their postings to him.
Mining baron Sudhir Sharma who was once the former ministers OSD has already been booked in one of the related scams and the former ministers last OSD O P Shukla is on the run ever since it was revealed that he had collected lakhs of rupees.
When asked about the questioning of the minister,STF ADG Sudhir Shahi told The Indian Express that investigation is on and it will be done after collecting evidence. The former minister was not available for comment.
Former MPPEB controller of examination Pankaj Trivedi,who is in police remand for days,has reportedly confessed that he owned his appointed to the former ministers clout and to reciprocate the officials would not charge money from candidates recommended by him or Sudhir Sharma. The PMT fraud came to light in Indore with the arrest of several candidates on the eve of examination in July this year. The STF has so far filed 11 FIRs since it took over the investigation. The two latest FIRs have named the former minister and 129 others,including an IPS officer,the brother of an IPS officer,candidates and MPPEB officials.