The Apex Court allowed one of the accused in the Vyapam Scam case, Sanket Vaidya, to travel abroad for higher studies however, imposing certain conditions while allowing the plea filed by Vaidya.
A Division Bench comprising of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Surya Kant said that Vaidya may travel overseas after furnishing a Fixed Deposit of a sum of about Rs. 1.26 Crores with the Trial Court. Vaidya is also required to furnish a surety from his father with the assurance that he would be present at all the hearings in the case.
The Court made it abundantly clear that if the petitioner violated any of the Court's directions, the FD would stand forfeited.
“It is made clear that in case the petitioner violates his undertaking at the first instance, Fixed Deposit Receipts for Rs.1,26,94,953/- shall stand forfeited."
The Vyapam scam was an entrance examination, admission, and recruitment scam that was unearthed in the Madhya Pradesh in 2013. Vaidya is one of the accused in the case and is charged for offences under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code as well as under sections 13(2) read with section 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, under sections 65 and 66 of Information Technology Act, among others. The primary allegations against the Petitioner were regarding manipulation in OMR Sheet and Digital Data manipulation.
The High Court had rejected his plea to travel abroad factoring in the severity of the offence which led to the petitioner approaching the Supreme Court seeking relief for pursuing further studies.
The decision of the Supreme Court came in a Special Leave Petition filed by Vaidya challenging the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court that denied him this permission. The High Court had held that no other accused in the case was allowed to leave the country and added that the course sought to be pursued by Vaidya was available in India as well. The Supreme Court, however, held that the High Court had erred in its decision.
Advocate Kartik Seth, who represented the Petitioner sought for the permission of the Apex Court to travel abroad as the Petitioner had been offered admission in the Master's program in Biotechnology in a university in Melbourne, Australia, for a period of two years.
However, Additional Solicitor General, KM Nataraj appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) contested the petitioner’s application by raising serious objections, stating that there was a possibility that the petitioner would not be returning to India at all.
"The learned Additional Solicitor General appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) opposes this application mainly on three grounds that (i) there is possibility of the petitioner not coming back to India; (ii) investigation is still continuing and it will be difficult to associate the petitioner with the investigation if permission is granted and (iii) it is lastly submitted that the trial may be delayed and the petitioner may not be available to face trial for two years."
Taking note of the objections of the CBI, the Court responded by stating that though it is true that the petitioner was accused of a serious offence, the emphasis had to be given to the fact that “he is a young person and wants to pursue his studies abroad”.
The Court further directed the petitioner to give a list of properties owned by his father in order to obtain sufficient security before permitting him to travel. Subsequent to this, the petitioner's father filed an affidavit pertaining to the details of his assets, the court noted.
Though, among all the other movable assets, the Court expressed its interest in only one Fixed Deposit (FD) Receipt in the Bank of Maharashtra amounting to Rs.1,26,94,953. In this regard, the Court further held that,
“Whatever be the value of the property, we direct that the petitioner shall only be permitted to go abroad in case the father, secures the attendance of the petitioner by furnishing security of all the immovable properties mentioned hereinabove and also deposit the Fixed Deposit Receipts for Rs.1,26,94,953/- with the Trial Court.”
Moreover, the Supreme Court further directed the petitioner to be available for investigation as and when required by the CBI. Considering the fact he would be studying abroad, the Court also requested the CBI to bear the limitations in mind and said,
“[S]ince he is studying abroad, we request the CBI to try to call him not more than once in four months and whatever investigation has to be done should be done in one go in three-four days instead of calling him time and again."
The High Court had rejected his plea to travel abroad factoring in the severity of the offence which led to the petitioner approaching the Supreme Court seeking relief for pursuing further studies. Therefore, as the crux of the matter the highest court of record allowed one of the accused in the Vyapam Scam case, Sanket Vaidya, to travel abroad for higher studies.