In a significant revelation in the infamous Bofors payoff case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) admitted before the Supreme Court on Thursday that it was denied permission by the authorities a decade ago to appeal against the Delhi High Court order acquitting the Hinduja brothers of charges against them.
According to a Times of India report, when the matter got listed after five years for fresh hearing before a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud, advocate P K Dey, standing for the CBI, said that that agency was not permitted to appeal against the May 31, 2005, HC judgement discharging the Hinduja brothers – Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand – from the case, along with the Bofors company.
The bench which was handling the case for the first time as it was last taken up for hearing on August 12, 2010, wanted to know if the notice issued to the Hindujas on October 18, 2005 had been served. Even CBI did not know if it had been served.
Moreover, the bench found that the petitioner was absent and had deputed no one to represent him.
On October 18, the court had allowed private petitioner advocate Ajay Kumar Agrawal to file an appeal against the HC judgement in the absence of such a plea by the CBI. The HC had quashed all charges against the Hinduja brothers and criticised CBI for its handling of the case.
“Before parting, I must express my disapproval at the investigation that went on for 14 years... it cost the exchequer nearly Rs 250 crore... a huge bubble was created with the aid of the media which, however, when tested by the court, burst, leaving behind a disastrous trail of suffering... Careers, both political and professional, were ruined besides causing huge economic loss. Many an accused lived and die with stigma. It is hoped that this elite investigating agency will be more responsible in future,” the HC judge had said.