The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice KM Joseph, today dismissed the appeal filed by CBI in the politically-controversial Rs. 64 crore Bofors pay-off case.
The Court was not convinced by the grounds CBI had cited to condone the delay for filing the appeal and thus dismissed the petition.
Nonetheless, BJP leader and advocate Ajay Agrawal, had also filed a Plea to reopen the hearing of the 64-crore Bofors pay-off case and the Court today opined that the CBI can raise it's all grounds in Agrawal's Petition.
He challenged the order dated 31st May 2005, passed by the Delhi High Court in Bofors scandal quashing all the charges against the Europe Based Hinduja Brothers under The Prevention of Corruption Act in the year 2005, only when the CBI failed to file the appeal against the order within the court mandated period of 90 days and is pursuing the matter since then.
The petition was filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 2nd February 2018, in the Supreme Court against the 2005 order passed by Justice Sodhi of the Delhi High Court quashing all the charges against accused persons in the Bofors pay-off case. The CBI filed appeal after more than a decade on the basis of some important documents and evidence, claiming that these documents and evidence made the situations in favour of CBI to file an appeal against the High Court order.
It is to be noted that on December 1, 2016, the agency had told the Supreme Court that it was denied permission by the then UPA government to appeal against the High Court’s decision of 31st May 2005.
Bofors case: Before the verdict of 2005, Justice Sodhi, retired Justice J.D Kapoor had exonerated the late Prime Minister in the case and directed the charges of forgery under sec 465 of the IPC against Bofors company.
The deal for the supply of 400 155mm Howitzer guns for the Indian Army was entered on 24th March 1986 between India and Swedish Arms Manufacturer AB Bofors. The deal was worth 1,437 crore.
On 16th April 1987, Swedish Radio claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel. The CBI had registered FIR on 22ndJanuary 1990 for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Martin Arbdo, the then President of AB Bofors, middleman Win Chadha and the Hinduja Brothers.
On 31st May 2005, Delhi High Court in Bofors scandal quashed all the charges against the Europe Based Hinduja Brothers in the Bofors case under The Prevention of Corruption Act.
The agency moved ahead in the matter after 12 years of the verdict after getting an oral assent from Attorney General K.K Venugopal for filing the Petition citing that the interview of Private Detective Michael Hershman, alleged that the then Rajiv Gandhi led Congress government had interrupted his investigation.
Hershman, the President of the US based private detective firm Fairfax, claimed in his television interview that the Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was frantic when he discovered a Swiss Bank account “Mont Blanc”. He alleged that the bribe money of the Bofors gun case was parked in this account and the CBI sought permission to investigate further in view of the reports related to Hershman’s interview.