Probe in Bofors payoff case to continue, don’t need court’s nod for it: CBI

The agency's response came after it withdrew from a Delhi court its application to seek permission to further probe the politically sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case.

Published: 16th May 2019 06:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2019 08:19 AM   |  A+A-

Indian soldiers fire 155mm Bofors guns at enemy positions from the Drass sector of Kashmir on June 22, 1999. (File photo | AFP)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The CBI probe into the politically sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case, pertaining to the alleged Rs 64 crore kickbacks in the purchase of Swedish artillery guns will continue, officials said Thursday.

"In view of certain revelations made by one Michael Hershman, CBI sought the permission of the trial court to conduct further investigation in the Bofors case," CBI spokesperson Nitin Wakankar said.

He said on May 8, the court had observed that when independent right and power is available with the CBI to further investigate the matter on its own, if in its wisdom it is necessary to do so then, why still such application is being filed in the court.

"After obtaining legal opinion, CBI filed an application on May 16, 2019 in the court of CMM, Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi, stating that for conducting further investigation under section 173(8) of CrPC, permission of the court is not mandatorily required by CBI and an intimation to the court in this regard will suffice," he said. Wakankar said the probe in the Bofors case will continue.

READ | CBI withdraws plea seeking further probe in Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case

The Central Bureau of Investigation's response came after it withdrew from a Delhi court its application to seek permission to further probe the case. The investigative agency separately issued a statement to dispel the notion that it was calling off the probe. 

The CBI said the decision to withdraw the application was taken after obtaining legal advice that there is no need for the court’s permission to pursue the case. “An intimation to the court in this regard will suffice,” it stated. In response to the CBI’s new plea, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Navin Kumar Kashyap said, “For reasons best known to the CBI, in case they want to withdraw the application, they have the right as they are the applicants.” 

The CBI had approached the court in February last year, citing fresh evidence in the case. The case pertains to a Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors in 1986 for the supply of 400 155-mm Howitzer guns for the Indian Army. 

The agency had swung into action for permission for further probe in the case after getting a go-ahead from the Attorney General to file the appeal in the case in which it cited the October 2017 interview of private detective Hershman, alleging that the then Rajiv Gandhi government had sabotaged his probe.

In an interview to private channels, Hershman, president of the US-based private detective firm Fairfax, had claimed that Rajiv Gandhi was "furious" when he had found a Swiss bank account Mont Blanc.

He was hired by the Finance Ministry which was under V P Singh, Gandhi's bete noire, to investigate outflow of alleged black money during Congress government, Hershman had claimed in an interview to DNA newspaper.

Justice R S Sodhi (since retired) of the Delhi High Court had on May 31, 2005, quashed the CBI case in the Bofors pay-off scam.

Before the 2005 verdict of Justice Sodhi, another judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice J D Kapoor (since retired), had on February 4, 2004, exonerated late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the case and directed the framing of charge of forgery under section 465 of the IPC against Bofors company.

The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm howitzer guns for the Indian Army was entered into on March 24, 1986.

Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.

(With inputs from Express News Service)

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