The CBI has told Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that it has informed the Supreme Court of its willingness to continue a probe into the Bofors payoff scandal, dating back to the mid-1980s.
“CBI in a letter dated 22.06.2017 conveyed its views that CBI, as investigative agency, was of the view that SLP (special leave petition) should be preferred against the order of the Delhi high court dated 31.05.2005,” the agency told the PAC.
The CBI’s official communication to the PAC is significant as a sub-committee of the parliamentary panel recently raised questions over a still pending audit report on the purchase of the Swedish howitzer and the defence ministry’s efforts to recover papers relevant to the purchase signed in 1986.
The Bofors case was raised by BJP MPs in the monsoon session of Parliament and was seen as part of a bid by the ruling party to keep up the pressure on main opposition Congress over the issue of corruption. The PAC is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss reports.
‘All Bofors papers not available’
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will meet on Wednesday to discuss reports not related to Bofors but committee chair, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, is understood to have raised some questions with members of the subcommittee, which examined pending audit reports, including the one on Bofors.
The matter has been vigorously pursued by BJD neta Bhartruhari Mahtab and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who demanded that the CBI clearly explain its position on the matter.
The CBI had said it would seek the government’s guidance and return to the committee with a response. The CBI’s submission in the Supreme Court, and its communication to the PAC, makes it clear that it has the green signal to seek resumption of the probe halted in May 2005, after a high court order dismissed proceedings against the UKbased Hinduja brothers who were accused of being part of the payoff chain.
The Hinduja brothers had argued that there were no documents to link them to the case, the CBI told the PAC. However, the then UPA government decided that there was no reason to seek an appeal.
In a separate response, the defence ministry told the PAC that all the relevant papers were not available though some were recovered from the Comptroller and Auditor General. The ministry said it was going through the papers in its possession to frame appropriate responses for the committee.