The Supreme Court today said that all cases arising out of the probe into Madhya Pradesh's Vyapam scam will be taken over by CBI and directed the agency to appoint public prosecutors within three weeks to conduct the trial.
"Otherwise, we will pass a judicial order on appointment of public prosecutors," a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said, while accepting the request of Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to grant the agency three weeks to appoint public prosecutors.
The bench, which also included justices Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy, said all Vyapam cases which have now risen from 185 to 212 will be looked after by the CBI, irrespective of the fact that in 78 of them the state's SIT/STF have filed chargesheets.
The issue of shortfall of CBI sleuths to take over the investigation was also raised like in the previous hearing but the bench told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that "you do it at the earliest as in the last 10 days nothing has happened".
The Attorney General (AG) also sought three weeks to come back with a clear cut proposal on filling the vacancies of investigators in CBI, which requires a mandatory training of at least two years.
"You need trained investigators. It takes two years to train them and I don't have a pool of investigators," Rohatgi told the bench which posted the matter for further hearing on September 11.
He told the bench that when the matter was first heard in the apex court, there were 185 FIRs registered in the scam which has now gone up to 212 and there are chances that the number would rise further.
At this point, the Solicitor General said though the Attorney General was speaking about the rise in the number of cases, he is not giving the agency the required staff.
"The AG is not giving us (CBI) staff," Kumar said while expressing difficulty in taking over all cases by the CBI.
The AG was also representing the Department of Personnel and Training, which looks after the filling up of vacancies in the CBI.
Taking note of shortfall of CBI sleuths to probe the matter and inadequate number of public prosecutors for conducting the trial of the cases, the bench wanted to know the view of senior advocate K T S Tulsi who said the probe agency should consider one FIR as lead case to unearth the larger conspiracy to file a consolidated charge sheet instead of separate charge sheets.
Tulsi along with senior advocates Vivek Tankha and Indira Jaising, was appearing for various persons including senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who had sought CBI probe in the Vyapam scam and alleged deaths connected with it.
He gave example of 1993 Mumbai blasts case in which large number of accused were tried together after consolidated charge sheets were filed.
Further, Tulsi referred to the apex court verdict which declined to separate the trial of BJP leader Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati cases on the ground that both were allegedly part of same conspiracy.
The Attorney General, who was appearing for Madhya Pradesh, opposed the view saying that Mumbai blasts was the result of the single conspiracy by same set of people, which is not the case in the Vyapam scam.
The Solicitor General also supported the Attorney General saying the number of accused persons were far more in the instant scam and their number ran into thousands.
Earlier on the issue of shortfall of CBI sleuths, Rohatgi had said though CBI has its own cadre, 50 per cent of the personnel with the agency were deputationists and now there has been a decline in the deputationists also.
He had said a request would be made to West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh where CBI sleuths are involved in investigating Saradha and Vyapam scams respectively to send 200 state cadre officials on deputation with the agency to be engaged in probing other cases.
The apex court had on July 31 told CBI to inform it in three weeks about taking over of investigation of maximum number of cases out of 185 arising from the Vyapam scam.
The apex court also asked DoPT to inform it about filling of necessary vacancies in the CBI as the agency has complained that shortage of man power was coming in the way of probe.
It had sought AG's assistance on the issue of filling up of vacancies in the CBI.