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Why was CBI not permitted to appeal against Bofors, Parliamentary panel asks Defence Ministry

amit pathak 27 Sep 2017

Why was CBI not permitted to appeal against Bofors, Parliamentary panel asks Defence Ministry

A Parliamentary panel has quistioned Defence Ministry why CBI was not given permission to file a special leave petition against the 2005 Delhi High Court order on Bofors case aquiting Hinduja brothers.

The questions by a sub-committee of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) were triggered after CBI in a response said that it wanted to pursue the case but could not, since the permission for filing the SLP was denied by the then UPA government.

The panel has also asked the ministry to explain the reason for not conducting fresh trials of 150 mm Bofors gun given under worst service conditions through the same had been recommended by DRDO. It also wondered as to why the then Defence Secretary overlooked the directions of the then Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi) in the Bofors case.

The contentious Bofors case, which had led to the ouster of Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989, is not yet over with petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court.d

Replying to queries by the panel, the Defence Ministry in a separate five-page submission said that since DoPT administers the Prevention of Corruption Act cases and CBI, the panel should ask DoPT to reply to the query about the reason for failing to give this permission.

Delhi High Court in its order on May 31, 2005 had quashed all proceedings against the Hinduja brothers and discharged them from the Bofors case. The Court had also quashed an earlier order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Delhi, framing charges against M/S Bofors and discharged the company from the case.

Asked why it did not file a petition against their High Court order, the CBI told the parliamentary panel in a nine-page written submission, "that on analysis of this order, Central Bureau of Investigation was of the view that SLP should be preferred against this order of Delhi High Court. Accordingly a proposal was forwarded to the Director (Vig II), DOPT, North Block New Delhi on September 8, 2005. The DoPT vide its letter dated November 25, 2005 denied permission for filing an SLP in the matter. Accordingly no SLP was preferred."

Regarding the questions on not conducting fresh trial, the ministry said that relevant file notings show that that a view was expressed in the Negotiating Committee then that "going for fresh trials would lead to dealy" but "there is no record of the final decision on not going in for fresh trials".

In the sub-committee meeting earlier, BJP member Nishikant Dubey had asked the CBI director Alok Verma why the agency did not ask the current government in 2016 if it wanted to pursue the case.

The issue came up before the PAC subcommittee headed by BJD's B Mahtab had taken up the issue of non-compliance of timely submission of action-taken notes (ATN) on the Bofors purchase based on CAG reports of 1989 and 1990.

Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra, who had appeared before the panel on June 14 and July 13 was asked by the panels why the ministry could not submit ATNs on para 11 of CAG report number 2 of 1989 and audit para 9 of CAG report number 2 of 1990, which highlighted irregularities in the purchase process of Howitzer artillery guns.

CBI speaks

CBI, in a response to PAC sub-committee query, had said it wanted to pursue the Bofors case but the then UPA government had denied the agency permission to file the SLP in the case.

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