A special court on Wednesday granted the plea of the accused in Satyam Computers fraud to club the three cases filed against them by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to pave way for a joint trial.

The judgment marked the first success for former Satyam chairman B. Ramalinga Raju and nine other accused in the past one-and-a-half year-long court wrangle as most of their petitions in the past were rejected by trial courts.

But it also paved the way for delivering a verdict on examining Mr. Raju through video linkage which he has been resisting so far. His counsels have been arguing that the video link sought by CBI to examine him from the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), where he is presently undergoing treatment, should not be considered unless the petitions seeking clubbing of cases were disposed of.

The CBI which filed three cases in the fraud, each representing a charge sheet, was opposed to clubbing of all cases as they contained different transactions. The agency conceded that the cases representing the main and supplementary charge sheets could be tried as one, but the third charge sheet on income-tax violations should be taken up separately. However, the defence took the stand that there was considerable overlap in all cases. Most of the witnesses were also common.

In his judgment, the magistrate B.V.L.N. Chakravarthy said there was enough indication that all offences formed part of same transaction going by allegations in the charge sheets.

He referred to Section 223 (d) of Criminal Procedure Code which provided that persons committing different offences in the course of the same transaction could be tried jointly.

Criminal conspiracy

He stated that all references were the offshoots of criminal conspiracy specified in main and supplementary charge sheets. It would be injudicious to try the cases separately and would also lead to unnecessary multiplicity of trials involving inconvenience to witnesses and expenditure of time and money.

It was expedient in the ends of justice to take up joint trial as it would not cause prejudice to any of the accused or the prosecution.