The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the 2005 Delhi High Court order quashing charges against the accused in the Bofors pay-off scam, PTI reported.
This comes just days after Attorney General KK Venugopal had advised the government that the CBI should not file a special leave petition against the 2005 Delhi High Court order. He had said the court was likely to dismiss the petition on grounds of delay. Instead, the CBI should remain a respondent in the case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and advocate Ajay Aggarwal, Venugopal had said.
In September 2017, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the appeal Aggarwal had filed in 2005 in his personal capacity, against the Delhi High Court order. He had done so after the CBI, which conducted an inquiry into the case, failed to challenge the order within the 90-day period.
However, the Central Bureau of Investigation was reportedly keen to file an appeal, and officers had told a parliamentary panel that the agency had important documents and evidence to challenge the High Court order, according to PTI.
The agency has often expressed interest in reopening the investigation in the recent past. In October 2017, it had said it would look into the “facts and circumstances” of the Bofors scandal mentioned by private detective Michael Hershman. Hershman had told a television channel that the Rajiv Gandhi government had sabotaged his investigation in the case. In August 2017 too, the agency had told a parliamentary panel that it may reopen the Bofors case.
The Bofors scandal
The scam dates back to 1980s and 1990s when the Congress was in power with Rajiv Gandhi as the prime minister. The Indian government had signed a $1.4-billion (Rs 9,568 crore approximately) defence deal with Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors for 410 field howitzer guns and a supply contract in March 1986.
In April 1987, the Swedish Radio had claimed that the company paid bribes to senior Indian politicians and Army personnel to secure the deal. Gandhi was also implicated in the case.
In 1990, the CBI registered a First Information Report for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code, as well as for corruption, against Martin Ardbo, who was then the president of Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers. The first chargesheet was filed in the case in 1999. A special CBI court in Delhi had in 2011 discharged Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the case.