NEW DELHI: In a huge setback to CBI, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain the appeal filed by the investigating agency against the Delhi High Court’s 2005 verdict discharging all the accused, including the Hinduja brothers, in the politically-sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors payoff case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it wasn’t convinced with the grounds cited by the CBI explaining why it had approached the court with its plea 12 years later.
As per the normal practice, such appeals have to be filed within 90 days.
“We are not convinced with the grounds furnished by the petitioner in explaining the inordinate delay of 4,522 days in filing this SLP (appeal),” the bench said.
The apex court, however, said the CBI could raise all grounds in the appeal against the same high court verdict, filed by advocate Ajay Agrawal, who has also challenged the judgement.
Attorney General K K Venugopal tried to request the bench to mention in the order that the dismissal of CBI’s appeal would not preclude it from carrying on its probe. However, the bench refused to do so.
The Delhi High Court had quashed all charges against the three Hinduja brothers, Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand, and the Bofors company in 2005, and castigated the CBI for its handling of the case, saying it had cost the exchequer about Rs 250 crore.
Attorney General KK Venugopal had earlier advised the government against approaching the top court, pointing out that the petition was likely to get dismissed on account of the long delay in the case.
The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms maker AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm howitzers for the Indian Army dates back to March 1986. Swedish Radio had claimed on April 16, 1987, that the firm had bribed top Indian politicians and defence personnel.