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India's Top Court Orders Federal Investigation Into Exam Scam

India's Supreme Court has ordered a federal investigation into a multimillion-dollar job-recruitment scam and more than 30 deaths to which it has been linked.

The country's highest court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the inquiry by police in central Madhya Pradesh state into what's known as the Vyapam scam. Here's the background to the scam from India's NDTV:

"The Vyapam scam is named for a state board that conducts qualifying tests for colleges and jobs as government teachers, doctors and policemen. [Hundreds of thousands] of candidates paid bribes to manipulate the exam process, including hiring proxies to take the test for them."

More than 2,500 people have been linked to the scandal, and 1,900 have been arrested. Since 2012, at least 36 people linked to the inquiry have died under mysterious circumstances; among them investigators, those accused and witnesses.

The Associated Press adds:

"The court also directed the Madhya Pradesh government to respond to a petition demanding the removal of the state's federally appointed governor after questions were raised about his involvement in the scandal. Gov. Ram Naresh Yadav's son Shailesh Yadav died mysteriously in May after the younger man was alleged to have accepted bribes in the governor's house."

Members of the opposition Congress Party have long been demanding a CBI inquiry into the scam, accusing the state government of trying to influence the course of the investigation.

"Students who have been arrested in connection with the scam should be made witnesses for the state," Congress leader Digvijay Singh told reporters Thursday. "Isn't it strange that hundreds of students and their parents are in jail, while those who took the bribes are roaming free?"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.