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Supreme Court refuses CBI appeal to reopen Bofors case over delay in filing appeal

The bench headed by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi said that it was not convinced with the grounds furnished by the petitioner in explaining the inordinate delay of 4522 days in filing appeal

india Updated: Nov 02, 2018 14:03 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
bofors,supreme court,cbi
Indian artillery men fire 155mm Bofors guns.(AFP File Photo)

In a huge setback to the CBI, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain the appeal filed by the agency against the high court’s 2005 verdict that shut the politically-sensitive Rs 64 crore pay-offs case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it wasn’t convinced with the grounds cited by the CBI explain why it had not approached the court with his plea 12 years later. In the normal course, such appeals had to be filed within 90 days.

Earlier this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the prosecuting agency in the case, had also joined him to challenge the order claiming new evidence. The CBI had then said it was denied permission from the then government to approach the Supreme Court against a 2005 Delhi high court verdict in the Bofors guns case.

“We are not convinced with the grounds furnished by the petitioner in explaining the inordinate delay of 4522 days in filing this SLP (appeal). We notice that in the criminal appeal filed by the complainant (Ajay Agarwal) CBI is a party and will be entitled to raise all pleas at the time of hearing,” the bench said.

The Delhi high court had quashed all charges against the three Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand — and the Bofors company in 2005 and castigated the CBI for its handling of the case, saying it had cost the exchequer about Rs 250 crore. The order came a year after another judge cleared late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s name.

Attorney General KK Venugopal had earlier advised the government against approaching the top court, pointing that the petition was likely to get dismissed on account of the long delay in the case. The appeal has been filed much after the 90-day time limit fixed under the Supreme Court Rules. The CBI will have to give a “plausible explanation” for the delay. SC will proceed with the matter if only it is satisfied there was a genuine reason for the delay.

The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm Howitzer guns for the Indian Army dates back to March 1986.

First Published: Nov 02, 2018 12:46 IST