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Last ditch bid to abort CBI plea to close Bofors case made

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 totally wrong and a
superfluous remark in the High Court`s order," Agrawal said in

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.


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

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