Last ditch bid to abort CBI plea to close Bofors case made
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Last Updated: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 19:30
  
New Delhi: A Delhi court, examining the CBI plea to close the case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi who allegedly received kickbacks in Bofors gun deal, was told on Saturday of all the reasons for which the agency wanted to challenge the Delhi High Court's dropping of charges against the Hinduja brothers and continue the case.

Lest the high court's remark in its May 2005 ruling on Hinduja brothers that probing the case has already cost Rs 250 to the exchequer ends up influencing the trial court in deciding the CBI plea in Quattrocchi case, advocate Ajay Agrawal, opposing the plea, said CBI itself had termed the HC remarks in the case as "superfluous."

Agrawal made his submission in a fresh application to the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav, who reserved his judgment on the CBI plea for Monday.

During its last hearing on February 10 on the CBI plea, the trial court had indicated that the high court's remarks on probe into Bofors gun deal case costing Rs 250 crore to exchequer may be a significant factor in its ruling.

"There also seems to be a superfluous remark that investigation (into the Bofors) case cost the exchequer nearly Rs 250 crores," said advocate Agrawal quoting the Bofors case investigation officer and CBI's erstwhile Superintendent of Police Keshav Mishra countering the high court's observation in the 2005 ruling.

Agrawal pointed out to the court that Mishra had made his remarks in an internal departmental evaluation of the high court's ruling while exploring the grounds to challenge it. The advocate also annexed his application with relevant extracts from the CBI's internal notings.

Agrawal said he had been told by a former CBI Director that the figure of Rs 250 crores "may be 20 to 30 times more than the amount spent on Bofors investigation and the actual figure may be less than five crores or so".

"To say that a large amount of Rs 250 crore has been spent on the investigation....is totally wrong and a superfluous remark in the High Court's order," Agrawal said in application.

The court had earlier asked the CBI to give a rough estimate of the amount being spent in the investigation of this case.

"Do we have any rough calculation how much money has been spent on this case? Is the figure of around Rs 250 crore, mentioned in the Delhi High Court's order, correct?," CMM Yadav had asked the CBI.

The CMM had reserved the order on the CBI's plea, observing that the case has "not moved an inch" in the last 23 to 24 years.

Quoting from the CBI internal note, Agrawal told the ACMM in his application that the agency had examined in details the high court's ruling of May 31, 2005, scrapping the trial court's decision to frame charges against the Hinduja brothers for their role in the Bofors case.

"In this Bofors case, the comments of the IO Keshav Mishra and other officers have been received. The unanimous recommendations of all the officers is that an SLP should be filed in the Supreme Court to set aside that order of the high court and restoration of the case from the point of immediately after framing of charges in the trial court," said Agrawal, quoting CBI's note.

The reasons the CBI listed in its notes for filing the appeal included, said Agrawal, if "the high court was justified in examining the case at depth, with reference to authenticity of documents, at the stage of (framing) charges."

The CBI had also questioned "whether it was not for the trial court to decide the admissibility of documents as evidence at the appropriate stage."

The relevant documents relating to Bofors payoff case the CBI had referred to in its notings or the high court referred to in its ruling had been brought from Switzerland in 1997 and were attested copies of the original documents.

But the high court had scrapped the trial court decision to frame charges against the Hinduja brothers questioning the authenticity of documents.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 19:30


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