Twelve years after the Delhi High Court discharged Hinduja brothers in the Bofors pay-off case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought the central government's permission to file a petition that could lead to reopening of the Bofors case.
According to officials, CBI has sought permission to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to reopen the case. A petitioner files an SLP to seek a special permission to be heard in the apex court in appeal against any judgment or order of any court or tribunal in India.
A majority of the members of a parliamentary sub-committee on defence attached to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab and looking into non-compliance of certain aspects of the CAG report of 1986 on the Bofors howitzer gun deal, had in July suggested that the case of irregularities in purchase of Bofors guns should be reopened as there were many "loopholes" in the investigation in past.
The suggestion had come after CBI Director Alok Verma faced questions from the members of the sub-committee on why the premier investigating agency did not approach the apex court after the Delhi High Court dismissed proceedings in the case in 2005.
The CBI officials had then said that it could re-investigate the Bofors case only if a court order allowed it to. Several MPs of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had also raised the issue in Parliament to re-open investigation in the case.
Late last year, CBI had informed the Supreme Court that authorities had not permitted it to file an appeal against the verdict. The CBI submission had been made before a bench headed by CJI TS Thakur which was hearing a plea by petitioner advocate Ajay Kumar Agarwal against the high court verdict.
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On Wednesday, the CBI had said it would look into the facts and circumstances mentioned in an interview of Michael Hershman, the first secret Bofors investigator of the Fairfax Group deployed by the Indian government.
He, during an interview to a TV news channel, said he was ready to testify and assist the Indian agencies in the Bofors case.
Hershman said V.P. Singh, then Finance Minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government, had hired him in 1986 to probe certain issues involving suspected violations of currency control laws by about a dozen wealthy Indians. At that time Hershman ran Fairfax Group, a private investigation firm.
The deal for 410 Bofors howitzers was sealed in March 1986.
The alleged corruption in the Bofors guns deal had created a scandal in 1989, leading to the fall of Rajiv Gandhi government. Kickbacks were alleged, but no evidence was found.
In 1986, then Finance Minister V P Singh had ordered an investigation. To do so, Singh had got in touch with private investigation group Fairfax.
Now, the six-member Public Accounts Committee's sub-committee on defence is looking into non-compliance of certain aspects of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report of 1986 on the deal.