Shield CBI from political obstruction on Bofors cases: Par panel draft report

A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sub-committee said that necessary legislative reviews be made to ensure unencumbered freedom of investigation and prosecution by the CBI.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2018 20:29 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Bofors case,Howitzer gun deal,CBI
Photo dated 21 June 1999 shows Indian artillery men firing 155mm Bofors guns from a gun emplacement on the Srinagar to Kargil road.(AFP File Photo)

After studying the Bofors deal for almost 27 years, a Parliamentary panel on Wednesday pressed the need for a legislative review to shield the CBI from political obstruction in cases related to the Howitzer gun purchase and urged the agency to investigate the matter without “fear or favour”.

All ongoing cases related to the Bofors contract should be swiftly investigated by the CBI, a six-member PAC sub-committee headed by the BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said in its draft report adopted at the sub-panel’s meeting in New Delhi.

The need for necessary legislative reviews was emphasised in the draft report which will be finalised after it gets an approval from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The sub-committe is looking into the non-compliance of certain aspects of CAG reports of 1989 and 1990 on the Bofors Howitzer gun deal.

The meeting on Wednesday was attended by, among others, Ponnusamy Venugopal of the AIADMK and Mohammed Ali Khan of the Congress.

“The Committee desires that necessary legislative reviews be made to ensure unencumbered freedom of investigation and prosecution by the CBI, shielding the agency from political or executive obstructions in its functioning within the law,” the PAC sub-committee said.

The CAG report on Bofors is the oldest pending matter before PAC, whose main function is to examine a CAG audit report after it has been placed in Parliament.

The report had been delayed as action-taken notes had not been submitted to the panel by the defence ministry and government organisations, a member of the sub-committee said.

While deliberating over the defence deal, the panel had asked several top government officials to appear before it and to brief the members about the matter.

The report will now be sent for approval to the main committee, where, a member said, Congress MPs may oppose parts of the draft.

The main committee is headed by Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress.

The Bofors scandal, relating to the alleged payment of kickbacks in the procurement of Howitzer artillery guns, had triggered a massive political storm and is believed to have led to the fall of the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989.

The CBI recently filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging a 2005 order of the Delhi High Court quashing all charges against those accused in the politically-sensitive pay-off case.

The filing of the appeal came after Attorney General KK Venugopal had advised the agency against moving a petition 12 years after the High Court’s verdict.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Apr 25, 2018 20:28 IST