Bhopal, Apr 3 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today deposed before a court in connection with a defamation suit filed by the state government on his behalf against a Congress leader for “maligning” him and his wife in relation to the multi-crore Vyapam scam.

The suit was filed against state Congress chief spokesman K K Mishra for purportedly dragging the names of Chouhan and his wife Sadhna Singh in the examination and recruitment scam.

Chouhan, clad in an off-white kurta and pajama, was cross-examined by Mishra’s counsel, Ajay Gupta, in the court of Special Additional District Judge Kashinath Singh.

The Chief Minister, assisted by public prosecutor, Anand Tiwari, simply said “no” and denied the knowledge of the subject matter of the questions posed to him for over 90 minutes.

He outrightly denied his or his family’s involvement in any recruitment test conducted by the MP Professional Examination Board, popularly known by its Hindi acronym ‘Vyapam’ (Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal).

During cross-examination, the BJP leader was shown a picture of him purpotedly sharing a dais with a Vyapam scam accused, Gulab Singh Kirar, at a function.

Kirar, a former member of the MP Backward Classes Commission, was on the run at that time. The defence claimed that the picture was shot on July 16, 2015.

Chouhan stated that he did not know the person concerned and contended that several people at various functions share stage with him.

When his attention was drawn to another person in the photograph, the Chief Minister identified the man as his Cabinet colleague Rampal Singh.

The defence argued that Chouhan had made Kirar the member of the Commission, a position equal to a minister of state rank. He also contended that Chouhan and Kirar belonged to same caste.

Referring to some controversial incidents in the state, Gupta told Chouhan that these had brought disgrace to the state.

“Don’t you feel that Vyapam scam as well as the killing of eight alleged SIMI members by the police in an encounter last year have invited global condemnation?” Gupta asked the CM, who in turn replied, “I do not know.” Chouhan said that under his leadership, Madhya Pradesh has won four “Krishi Karman” awards for its excellent performance in agriculture sector.

He said that Madhya Pradesh has become a developed state now, shedding its ‘BIMARU’ tag which was assigned to it during erstwhile Congress regime during 1993-2003.

Chouhan’s statements were recorded in five pages.

In June 2014, Mishra had alleged in a press conference here that 19 youths from Gondia in Maharashtra, the native place of Chouhan’s wife Sadhana Singh, were appointed constables in state Transport department after they cracked a recruitment test conducted by Vyapam.

Following the allegation, the state government had on behalf of Chouhan filed the defamation case.

The CBI is investigating the Vyapam scam on the directions of the Supreme Court.

The scam allegedly involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen pertains to alleged irregularities in job recruitments and admissions by the state’s professional examination board.

The scam involved different exams conducted by Vyapam.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 7.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.