The Supreme Court on Monday permitted the Special Task Force (STF) to take "appropriate steps" under the Code of Criminal Procedure against the Vyapam accused so that they do not take advantage of delayed action and seek bail.
"Keeping in view the urgency of the matter, we permit the SIT/STF to take appropriate proceedings against the persons mentioned in the memo at serial number 1 to 245 in accordance with law and in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure," an apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy said.
The court was told that there were 245 accused who could take advantage of the situation if the Special Investigation Team/Special Task Force was not allowed to pursue the court cases till the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over.
Appearing for the SIT/STF, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that they were ready to deal with the cases at hand but that would be contrary to the court's orders.
Giving three days' time to the petitioners, including senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, to file their responses to CBI plea seeking modification of the July 9 order, the court directed the listing of the matter on Friday when the investigating agency will also indicate by what time it would complete the task of taking over the Vyapam cases.
The court order came on an application by the CBI to seek modification of its July 9 order by which it had handed over the Vyapam investigation to the investigative agency.
The CBI sought that the SIT/STF investigating the matter may be permitted to file charge sheets in the cases as it would take some time before the Vyapam case records are transferred to the central agency.
Appearing for the CBI, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the court that the intervening period should not be allowed to be taken advantage of by the accused whose remand period was coming to an end, seeking default bail in case charge sheet was not filed within 90 days of their arrest or their bail applications went uncontested or plea for extension of their remand was pressed.
The Supreme Court on July 9 directed the CBI to take over the Vyapam investigation from July 13.
The CBI plea for the modification of the July 9 order was resisted by senior counsel Kapil Sibal, who expressed his apprehension that the central agency may take six months in taking over the Vyapam cases.
"He (CBI) will not take over (the Vyapam cases) for six months," Sibal appearing for the petitioner and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said, adding "let them (CBI) come to the court on a case-to-case basis. There can't be an omnibus order."
Chief Justice Dattu asked Sibal, "Do you want them (accused) to be released on bail."
"We will prefer them to be released on bail than closure reports being filed by the STF," Sibal said, telling the court that "if you allow them (SIT/STF) to file charge sheet, you are diluting the order."
"If they (SIT/STF) are continuing, then what is the point of transfer (of Vyapam cases to CBI)," Sibal said while urging the court to ask the CBI "by when they will complete the takeover of cases".
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar urged the court not to let the accused take advantage of the situation whereby, given the voluminous nature of Vyapam case records, the CBI would need time to take them over and the SIT/STF would keep off the cases.
Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board or Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam) scam pertains to recruitment to certain government jobs as well as admissions to professional colleges in the state.
More than 40 people connected with the scam have died, either under mysterious circumstances or have committed suicide.