“Unveiling the Vyapam Scam: A Comprehensive Overview”

“Unveiling the Vyapam Scam: A Comprehensive Overview”

This article has been written by Parshant, a 4th year student of VMS College of Law, Batala 


Vyapam, the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, was tasked with conducting extensive competitive exams for admission to various technical courses and recruitment for government positions. The Vyapam scandal involved a web of bribery among exam applicants, government officials, and intermediaries, where high scores were exchanged for illicit payments. Skilled individuals, including accomplished graduates and practicing doctors, were hired to impersonate applicants during exams. The impersonators’ photographs were substituted for those of the actual candidates on entry cards, only to be switched back after the test, facilitated by corrupt board members. Instances of malpractice in the Vyapam scam date back to 1995, with the first formal complaint filed in the Chhatarpur district in 2000. Subsequently, seven cases were reported in the Khandwa district in 2004. Despite these early reports, the authorities treated each incident as isolated, failing to grasp the extent of the corruption.

Vyapam Scam Unveiled

The Vyapam scam, an intricate web of deception surrounding entrance exams, admissions, and promotions, was uncovered in Madhya Pradesh, India, in 2013. This elaborate scheme involved collaboration among various individuals, including legislators, government officials, and businessmen, to manipulate exam results through illicit means. Tactics included hiring imposters to take exams, exploiting exam hall arrangements, and providing fake answer sheets to complicit officials. The scam affected 13 different exams administered by Vyapam, spanning from medical admissions to government job recruitments.

The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), commonly known as Vyapam, is an autonomous body responsible for conducting state entrance exams for government jobs and educational institutions. The scam involved undeserving candidates bribing lawmakers and MPPEB officials, facilitated by intermediaries, to secure high ranks in these exams.

Reports of irregularities in these exams date back to the mid-1990s, with the first formal complaint lodged in 2000. However, it wasn’t until 2009, with significant irregularities in the Pre-Medical Test (PMT), that the organized fraud came to light. Despite an investigation in 2011 resulting in numerous detentions, no charges were pressed, with many suspects either dying suspiciously in custody or being released on parole.

The scale of the scam became apparent in 2013 when 20 individuals were caught in Indore attempting to impersonate candidates for the 2009 PMT. This led to the arrest of Jagdish Sagar, identified as the mastermind behind the scam. In August 2013, the State Government formed a Special Task Force (STF), resulting in further arrests and revelations of involvement by lawmakers, MPPEB employees, middlemen, and candidates along with their parents.

By June 2015, over 2,000 suspects, including former Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma and numerous lawmakers, had been detained. In July 2015, the Supreme Court of India ordered the investigation to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Vyapam scandal garnered international attention, with its Wikipedia page ranking as the 19th most visited article globally in 2015.

Senior officials and whistleblowers, such as Justice Bhushan and Anand Rai, suspect that the Vyapam scam has been ongoing since the 1990s and may represent just the tip of the iceberg, with similar fraudulent practices possibly occurring in other states across India.





A state government-appointed committee, led by the State Joint Director of Medical Education, investigated irregularities in the PMT test.


In response to revelations implicating organized crime and political figures in the scandal, the State Government formed the Police Special Task Force (STF) to investigate. Calls for a CBI probe were made, initially resisted by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.


The Madhya Pradesh High Court rejected Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s plea for a CBI inquiry, instead mandating the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to oversee the case.


The STF, overseen by the SIT, pursued legal action against those involved in the fraud.


The opposition National Congress Party demanded Chief Minister Chouhan’s resignation to ensure a fair trial. They petitioned the High Court for a CBI investigation, awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.


The Attorney General informed the Supreme Court that Madhya Pradesh agreed to transfer the case to the CBI. Consequently, the Supreme Court directed the transfer of criminal cases and associated deaths linked to the scam to the CBI.

Modus Operandi:

Several factions collaborated with complicit MPPEB officials to manipulate seating arrangements in examination halls and complete the answer sheets with optical label identification. While the starting price for PMT was Rs 15 lakh, admission to PG (Medical) demanded a premium exceeding Rs 50 lakh.

Exposing the Scam

  • 2009-2011:

During 2007-08, the Madhya Pradesh Local Fund Audit Office found various financial and administrative irregularities within the MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), including unauthorized disposal of application forms. Concerns arose that application documents were deliberately misplaced, making them untraceable for admission card tests and other crucial information. Fresh allegations of misconduct emerged in the 2009 Pre-Medical Examination (PMT), prompting activist Anand Rai to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for investigation. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan formed a committee chaired by the State Joint Director of Medical Education to probe the allegations.

In July 2011, MPPEB identified 145 suspects during the PMT, with 8 apprehended for impersonation. Notably, Satyendra Varma from Kanpur was paid Rs 4 lakhs to appear in place of Ashish Yadav in Indore. Additionally, 15 top scorers from the previous year reappeared, raising suspicions of impersonation or collusion. MPPEB introduced biometric technology to mitigate fraud, capturing thumbprints and photographs for verification post-results.

Chouhan’s committee found in November 2011 that 114 candidates had passed the PMT through impersonation. Impersonators, often doctors or recent graduates, were paid substantial sums by middlemen. Some candidates were affluent, while others migrated from neighboring states. Concerns about government officials’ involvement arose.

In December 2011, the MP Government announced expulsion of fraudulently admitted candidates, even if they spent years in the program. In 2012, Indore police arrested four attempting impersonation for the PMT, offered sums ranging from INR 25,000 to 50,000 each.

  • 2013:

The magnitude of the Vyapam scam became evident in 2013. On the night of July 6–7, Indore Police apprehended 20 individuals from various city hotels, 17 of whom hailed from Uttar Pradesh. These individuals had been hired to impersonate local candidates for the upcoming PMT exam. The arrests led authorities to Jagdish Sagar, the mastermind behind the scam.

In response to ongoing arrests and investigations, activist Dr. Anand Rai lodged a complaint with the district Superintendent of Police, urging a thorough inquiry into the role of MPPEB officials. On July 13, 2013, Jagdish Sagar was arrested in Mumbai, with a list of 317 students confiscated from him. MPPEB exam controller Pankaj Trivedi, initially defending the implicated graduates, later faced charges based on information obtained from Sagar’s interrogation. Subsequent investigations led to further arrests and charges filed against multiple individuals involved in the scam.

Additional Examinations

In November 2013, the Special Task Force (STF) uncovered manipulation in five recruitment tests conducted in 2012 for government positions in Madhya Pradesh. These included exams like Pre-PG, Food Inspector, Dairy Federation, Sub-Sub Inspector, and Police Constable. Dr. Pankaj Trivedi and Nitin Mahindra provided model answer keys for the Pre-PG Exam. By March 2014, the STF expanded its investigation to nine tests, detaining 127 individuals. It was revealed that 286 candidates fraudulently cleared PMT-2012. In April 2014, 27 students were expelled from MGM Medical College for using unfair means in PMT-2012. In June 2014, concerns were raised about the slow pace of apprehensions, leading to the detention of Laxmikant Sharma for alleged involvement in teacher recruitment irregularities. Additionally, over 100 medical students were arrested for their involvement in the PMT racket.


Dr. Anand Rai, based in Indore, played a crucial role in initiating an investigation into the Vyapam scandal through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). He reported receiving threats and believed contract killers were targeting him. In 2013, he sought court protection due to these threats, which led to him being granted police security, despite it being financially burdensome. By 2015, he had a dedicated security guard. Despite accusations of political affiliations with the Congress party by a BJP spokesperson, Dr. Rai denied such ties and clarified past associations with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He accused former Union Minister and BJP chief Vikram Verma of influencing his daughter’s college transfer, lodging a complaint with the CBI. Dr. Rai alleged that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had suggested canceling his transfer orders in exchange for halting protests against him regarding the Vyapam and DMAT scandals, a claim confirmed by the Chief Secretary, though he stated the meeting was arranged at Dr. Rai’s request to discuss scam-related details.

Accusations Against the Chief Minister and the Governor

In 2014, Prashant Pandey, an IT specialist recruited by the Special Task Force (STF) and known as “Mr. X,” was arrested for attempting to exploit information from the Vyapam team. He approached Indian National Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, alleging involvement of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the scam. However, Pandey’s claims were debunked as his evidence was found to be forged. Singh’s petition was dismissed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

Meanwhile, evidence against State Governor Ram Naresh Yadav emerged in connection with manipulation of recruitment tests. His son, Shailesh Yadav, faced related charges and was found dead under suspicious circumstances. The High Court deferred Yadav’s detention citing constitutional protection while in office, but allowed the investigation to proceed. Legal action was planned post Yadav’s retirement in September 2016, as confirmed by the SIT head.


• Laxmikant Sharma:

Laxmikant Sharma, former BJP chief and Minister of Technical Education, was implicated in irregular teacher recruitment and police constable exam fraud based on evidence from an Excel sheet held by Nitin Mohindra. Sharma resigned from BJP in June 2014 amid allegations. He denied involvement, blamed his subordinate OP Shukla, and discovered his daughter had skipped the PMT exam twice.

• Sudhir Sharma:

Sudhir Sharma, previously Special Duty Officer (OSD) for Laxmikant Sharma, confessed to his involvement in the 2012 police recruitment scandal after briefly absconding in December 2013. He evaded arrest again and was declared missing. Sudhir Sharma admitted guilt in court in 2014 and was charged by the Special Task Force (STF). Between 2010 and 2013, he allegedly paid bribes to politicians, officials, ABVP members, RSS officers, and civil servants. Laxmikant Sharma was reportedly a primary beneficiary. Sudhir Sharma also received money from educational institutions.

• Jagdish Sagar:

Indore-based Jagdish Sagar facilitated the fraudulent selection of around 140 medical students between 2009 and 2012. He recruited impersonators and amassed considerable wealth, including real estate. Despite being detained in 2003, he avoided scrutiny until formally charged.

• Sanjeev Shiplakar:

Sanjeev Shiplakar, a junior at Jagdish Sagar Medical College in Bhopal, ran his racket. In the PMT 2013 case, he enrolled 92 candidates, with 45 already securing admissions through illicit means. He bribed MPPEB officials, impersonators, and brokers. Initially absconding after Sagar’s arrest, he was subsequently apprehended by the STF.

• CK Mishra:

CK Mishra admitted to collaborating with Dr. Sagar, Santosh Gupta, and Sanjeev Shilpkar since 2009. Mishra paid for selection forms arranged by Dr. Sagar, with consecutive roll numbers for applicants. He paid Rs. 1 million in 2009, Rs. 2 million in 2010, and Rs. 3 million in 2012 for these services.


The Vyapam scam in India has been marred by suspicions of foul play surrounding the deaths of individuals associated with the fraud investigation. The Special Task Force (STF) identified 23 individuals suspected to have died under “unnatural causes,” with over 40 deaths reported in connection to the scam by media outlets. The State Government, led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has refuted allegations of foul play, attributing deaths to natural causes and the large scale of examinations conducted by Vyapam annually. Informant Anand Rai has deemed ten deaths as suspicious, including those of notable figures like Akshay Singh and Namrata Damor. The High Court’s Special Investigative Team (SIT) reported that 32 individuals aged between 25-30, linked to the scam, have died under mysterious circumstances since 2012. Concerns have been raised by SIT officials regarding the possibility that some detainees may have been identifying deceased individuals, complicating the investigation.

Social Media

The mysterious deaths of individuals associated with the Vyapam scandal have become a source of dark humor on various social media platforms across India. Some have drawn parallels to popular television shows like Dexter, dubbing it the Indian equivalent of Game of Thrones. The sudden demise of a journalist shortly after questioning the family members of another deceased individual convicted in the scandal was particularly unsettling. This has fueled an online perception that any connection to the scam may result in trouble or even unexplained death. Hashtags such as #KhooniVyapam (Bloody Vyapam), #killervyapamscam, #vyapam, #VyapamGenocide, and #shivrajisteefado (Shivraj, resign) have been used extensively by users to express their reactions.


“On February 13, 2017, the Supreme Court of India rendered an 83-line judgment, invalidating the rankings of 634 doctors.” The court claimed that:

The court held that the acts of the appellants are focused on immoral behavior, and are in total breach of the rule of law. Their activities constitute acts of deception.  National dignity, in the court’ opinion, cannot be traded for benefiting any individual or the system. The court viewed that unless we wish to create a country on the touchstone of ethics and morality, and if our decided intention is to construct a country where only the rule of law prevails, then we cannot support the argument of the appellants (students) for the proposed social gains (by alloy). They have little trouble in arguing in terms of the rule of law. Lastly the court viewed that fraud cannot be permitted to slip under the stratagem of public welfare.


The Vyapam scam involves a network of leaders, government officials, and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh, centered around the state’s Professional Examination Board, known as Vyapam. This scandal, considered one of India’s most perilous, has seen numerous deaths since 2009, with around 50 individuals initially reported, and an additional 35 since 2012. The scheme, worth crores of rupees, revolves around undeserving candidates bribing officials to secure favorable ranks in entrance exams. Over 2,000 suspects have been arrested in connection with the fraud. Police allege that fraudsters utilized imposters to take exams, manipulated seating arrangements, and provided fake answer sheets to complicit officials between 2012 and 2013. The scandal has claimed the lives of 25 individuals linked to the case, including informants, suspects, and witnesses, while others reported receiving death threats. High-ranking leaders have also been implicated in the controversy.

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