SC dismisses CBI plea against discharge of accused in Bofors case, allows agency to put forward stand in separate case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the CBI petition on the politically-sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors pay-off case but it would remain alive as the agency has been permitted to raise its stand in the matter in another petition which has already been admitted.

The apex court said all grounds mentioned in its appeal against the Delhi High Court's 2005 judgement, which discharged all accused in the case, can be raised in the plea of advocate-turned politician Ajay Agrawal.

 SC dismisses CBI plea against discharge of accused in Bofors case, allows agency to put forward stand in separate case

Representational image of Bofors gun. AFP

Agarwal, who had contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 as BJP candidate from Rai Bareli against the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi, had filed the appeal within the mandatory 90-day time limit when the CBI had preferred not to challenge the High Court verdict.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did not condone the delay of 13 years on part of CBI, which filed the appeal on 2 February this year against the 31 May 2005 judgement of the high court quashing all charges against the three Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand — and the Bofors company.

Although the apex court rejected the CBI's appeal, the 32-year-old case would remain alive in the top court as it is still seized of the plea by Agarwal, who is a BJP leader.

CBI, which could not give plausible reasons to the top court for the delay of over 4,500 days in filing the appeal, can now press for the reliefs like seeking further probe in the case when Agrawal's appeal comes up for hearing.

The agency had in December 2016 conceded before the apex court that it was not given the requisite nod by successive UPA governments to file an appeal in the case.
Agarwal had questioned the belated move of the CBI to appeal against the Delhi High Court decision.

In a letter to the CBI in 2017, he had suggested that instead of filing an appeal, the agency should respond to his criminal appeal and clarify its stand through an affidavit in the top court.

Even Attorney General KK Venugopal in January this year had expressed his opinion that the CBI should raise all its contentions in the already admitted appeal of Agrawal.

Justice RS Sodhi of the Delhi High Court, since retired, had on May 31, 2005, quashed all charges against the three Hinduja brothers —  Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand —  and the Bofors company and had castigated the CBI for its handling of the case, saying it had cost the exchequer about Rs 250 crore.

The apex court had on 18 October 2005, admitted Agarwal's appeal which was filed after CBI failed to approach the top court with the appeal within the 90-day deadline following the high court verdict.

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Updated Date: Nov 02, 2018 19:46:49 IST