New Delhi, February 3 (NDTV): The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a 12-year-old order of the High Court, cancelling the case against the UK-based Indian-origin business magnates Hinduja brothers and the Swedish firm, Bofors, in the INR 64-crore (U$ 9.9 million) 155 mm Bofors gun purchase case.
The CBI’s case comes just days after Attorney General K.K. Venugopal adviced the government against an appeal, saying it was likely to be dismissed on account of the long delay itself.
It is not clear if the CBI and the government were able to persuade the top law officer to review his opinion.
Venugopal had earlier advised the agency to remain a respondent in the case filed by Ajay Kumar Agrawal, a BJP member and advocate, who last year challenged the High Court judgment in the Bofors case.
A dismissal of a separate petition by the CBI in the Supreme Court would prejudice this case, the note said.
In the first hearing of Ajay Kumar Agarwal’s appeal earlier this month, the Supreme Court had questioned his locus standi. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had wondered why the court should go into it when the prosecutor, the CBI, hadn’t filed an appeal.
“When the prosecutor (CBI) has remained silent, why should we go into it? The occurrence took place in 1986. 31 years have passed, nobody challenged it. You are a third party and you have to satisfy us on this issue,” the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, had asked last month.
There is a political context in which the case has come up again, political observers told newsin.asia. The Bofors deal had been concluded in the 1980s under controversial circumstances when Congress was in power and Rajiv Gandhi, was Prime Minister.
Payoffs through intermediaries were alleged. But despite efforts by subsequent non-Congress governments to get to the bottom of the deal, nothing emerged. The issue would be taken up now and then, brushed under the carpet and brought out whenever it was politically convenient to do so.
With the Congress under Rajiv’s son Rahul, showing signs of becoming a threat to the prospects of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the May 2019 parliamentary elections with a series of successes to go by, it is small wonder that the BJP-led government in New Delhi is raking up the issue now, even against the advice of its own top law officer.