The Bofors case is back in focus with a parliamentary committee Thursday raising pointed questions at the CBI and Defence Ministry on why the case was not pursued further in court and why an action-taken note was not submitted by the defence ministry on some actions raised by the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s 1990 report.
Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra and CBI director Alok Verma, who along with their subordinate officers appeared before a sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee headed by BJD member B Mahtab, were repeatedly asked about action taken in the case. The six-member sub-committee headed by Mahtab has three members from the BJP, one from the Shiv Sena and one from the AIADMK.
Thursday’s meeting was for taking up non-compliance of timely submission of action-taken notes (ATN) on the Bofors purchase based on CAG reports of 1989 and 1990. In some paras of the report on the Bofors deal, the CAG said the purchase deal was signed after the valid date.
A source in the panel said the defence ministry did not reply to this portion of the query in the ATN and its “inadequate” replies were not accepted by the CAG. “After 2007, there was no correspondence between CAG and the defence ministry on it,” the source said.
The CBI team told the panel that the agency had already informed the Supreme Court in an affidavit last year that the authorities at that time (the UPA in 2005) did not permit it to file an appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict discharging the Hinduja brothers in the case.
Sources said that BJP member Nishikant Dubey asked the CBI director why the agency did not ask the current government in 2016 if it wanted to pursue the case. “When the case against L K Advani (on the Babri demolition) can be revived… why can’t Bofors?” Dubey is learnt to have asked. Dubey and other BJP members declined to accept the argument of the defence ministry for not submitting the Action Taken Note. The ministry said the papers were with the CBI and the agency has submitted them in courts.