A BJP leader, pursuing the politically sensitive Rs 640-million Bofors pay-offs case, on Monday alleged in the Supreme Court that the CBI had misled Delhi High Court claiming that nearly Rs 2.50 billion was spent in the probe.
Advocate Ajay Agrawal, who had contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Rai Bareli against then Congress President Sonia Gandhi, claimed that as per an RTI reply of March 21, 2011 received by him, a sum of Rs 47 million was spent in the total investigation of the Bofors case.
The apex court had on October 18, 2005 admitted Agrawal's petition which was filed after the CBI failed to approach the top court with the appeal within the 90-day deadline following the May 31, 2005 Delhi High Court judgement quashing charges against the Europe-based industrialists, the Hinduja brothers.
Justice R S Sodhi of Delhi High Court, since retired, had on May 31, 2005 quashed all charges against the three Hinduja brothers -- Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand -- and the Bofors company, castigating CBI for its handling of the case, saying it had cost the exchequer about Rs 2.50 billion.
"It is the CBI who had given the (high court) judge to understand that Rs 2.50 billion has been spent on the investigation while the depondent, petitioner-in-person (Agrawal), herein received a RTI reply dated March 21, 2011 that a sum of Rs 47 million has been spent in the total investigation of the case," Agrawal said in his short affidavit filed in the top court, which listed his appeal in the regular list of business for hearing tomorrow.
He claimed in his affidavit that the sum of Rs 47 million included the fee paid to the lawyers in the entire litigation in the case in India and abroad.
Before the 2005 verdict of Justice Sodhi, another judge of the Delhi High Court, retired Justice J D Kapoor, 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.
Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, had claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.
The CBI on January 22, 1990 had registered the FIR for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Martin Ardbo, the then President of AB Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers.
It had alleged that certain public servants and private persons in India and abroad had entered into a criminal conspiracy between 1982 and 1987 in pursuance of which the offences of bribery, corruption, cheating and forgery were committed.
The first charge sheet in the case was filed on October 22, 1999, against Chadda, Ottavio Quattrocchi, then defence secretary S K Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company. A supplementary charge sheet was filed against the Hinduja brothers on October 9, 2000.
A special CBI court in Delhi on March 4, 2011, had discharged Quattrocchi from the case saying the country could not afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which had already cost Rs 2.50 billion.
Quattrocchi, who fled from here on July 29-30, 1993, never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution. He passed away on July 13, 2013. The other accused persons who have died are Bhatnagar, Chadda and Ardbo.