The Supreme Court on Monday said state investigating agencies that were probing the Vyapam examination and recruitment scam in Madhya Pradesh should take appropriate steps till Thursday to keep arrested suspects in custody before the CBI took full charge of the probe.
The top court had ordered transfer of all Vyapam-related cases to the CBI from July 13, shifting the almost two-year-old investigation from the Madhya Pradesh high court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) and the special task force (STF).
The state investigators arrested several people prior to the top court ordering a CBI inquiry, but these suspects could be out on bail if charge sheets were not filed within 90 days of their arrest.
When solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar told the court about this possibility, a bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu passed an interim order allowing the STF and SIT to file charge sheets, oppose bail applications and seek extension of police remand of the suspects till Thursday.Watch: The A to Z of the Vyapam scam
The bench also asked the solicitor-general to make this point again on Friday, the day the CBI was to tell the court how much time it needed to take over the case.
The court will then pass a final order on the CBI plea to let the STF file charge sheets until the central agency takes over the inquiry into the multi-crore scam in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, or Vyapam, that apparently involves politicians, officials and businessmen.
Charge sheets are apparently ready in three or four cases and have to be filed by July 23. Around 245 of 2,000 arrested accused could be out on bail if charge sheets were not filed soon.
“Taking over of the case physically would take some time. However, there are individual FIRs where the SIT and STF of Madhya Pradesh police have completed their probe and are ready with the charge sheet. If these final reports are not placed before the magistrate’s court, the accused would get bail on default,” solicitor-general Kumar said on behalf of the CBI.
The Supreme Court also permitted Congress leader Digivijaya Singh to file a response to the CBI application for more time. His counsel Kapil Sibal said SIT or STF should not be allowed to tinker with the case papers.
It was on Singh’s petition the top court on July 9 ordered a CBI inquiry into the scam, which has witnessed a spate of deaths of witnesses, accused and beneficiaries. He alleged that around 49 people have died over the past five years in inexplicable circumstances, though the state government put the count at 25.