NEET-UG Probe: CBI Seeks Remand Of 4 Godhra-Based Accused Arrested By Gujarat Police

NEET-UG Probe: CBI Seeks Remand Of 4 Godhra-Based Accused Arrested By Gujarat Police

CBI lawyer Dhruv Malik informed the district court that though Gujarat police had conducted a probe earlier, the agency needed the custody of these accused as it is conducting a fresh investigation.

PTIUpdated: Friday, June 28, 2024, 07:16 PM IST
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CBI | Photo: Representative Image

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday sought 4-day remand of four of the five persons arrested by Gujarat police for alleged involvement in irregularities in the May 5 NEET-UG exam held in Godhra in Panchmahal district.

CBI lawyer Dhruv Malik informed the district court that though Gujarat police had conducted a probe earlier, the agency needed the custody of these accused as it is conducting a fresh investigation.

Of the five persons arrested by Gujarat police on May 8 and in the subsequent week, CBI wants custody of school teacher Tushar Bhatt, principal of Jay Jalaram School Purushottam Sharma and middlemen Vibhor Anand and Arif Vohra. The CBI did not seek remand of education consultant Parsuram Roy. All the five are currently lodged in Godhra sub jail.

Principal District Judge of Panchmahal, CK Chauhan, expressed apprehension on CBI's remand application saying police or investigative agencies cannot seek custody of an accused beyond the initial 15 days following arrest.

Citing a 1992 decision by the Supreme Court in the CBI Vs Anupam Kulkarni case, judge Chauhan said new remand after the lapse of 15 days from arrest can be granted only when the accused was hospitalised during that period or he did not cooperate during the initial remand.

Malik, however, argued that remand beyond the first 15 days of the arrest can be granted under section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure if the judge finds it fit.

Malik informed the court that the CBI is probing a larger conspiracy spread across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, Delhi and Jharkhand.

He said though the accused were earlier remanded to the custody of Panchmahal police for a period ranging from 4 days to 11 days, the CBI needs their custody to conduct a "fresh investigation".

As per the CBI's preliminary probe, the accused had asked some candidates to choose Jay Jalaram school in Godhra as their exam centre, said Malik.

"Last year, when NEET was held in the same school, the accused learnt that OMR answer sheets were kept there overnight before being dispatched. This gave them an idea and they asked their students to choose this centre to execute their plans," said Malik.

The court has kept further hearing on Saturday, when it is expected to pronounce an order about the CBI's remand plea.

On Thursday, a CBI team investigating the NEET-UG malpractices case recorded statements of six candidates who had allegedly paid an accused for helping them clear the medical entrance test held at Jay Jalaram school near Godhra. A CBI team has been camping in Gujarat for the last four days as part of the probe.

A case was registered by Godhra police on May 8 against three persons under Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions, including criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal breach of trust, for allegedly trying to help 27 candidates clear the NEET-UG by charging Rs 10 lakh each.

On June 23, the CBI filed a fresh FIR (first information report) against unidentified persons under IPC sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating), among others, amid countrywide protests and litigation by students for a probe into paper leak claims.

The CBI has taken over the investigation of five new cases of alleged malpractices in NEET-UG being probed by police in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bihar.

The racket was unearthed after the Panchmahal district collector received a tip-off that some persons were involved in malpractices linked to the exam, as per the FIR registered on May 8 by the Godhra police.

Since the tip-off was received in advance, authorities prevented malpractices at the centre (Jay Jalaram School in Godhra) and the exam was conducted without a hitch, the FIR said.

Physics teacher Tushar Bhatt, school principal Parshottam Sharma, Vadodara-based education consultant Parsuram Roy, his aide Vibhor Anand and alleged middleman Arif Vohra were arrested by police.

As per the FIR registered at the Godhra taluka police station on a complaint of the district education officer, Rs 7 lakh cash was recovered from Bhatt who taught at Jay Jalaram school and was appointed as the deputy centre superintendent for NEET in the city.

The accused had asked the candidates to solve a question if they knew the answer, and leave the remaining paper blank. The answers of remaining questions were to be filled in by Bhatt when the papers were collected after the exam, as per the FIR.

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