A Delhi court Thursday allowed the CBI to withdraw its application to further investigate the Bofors case, but said it was
“surprised” by the stand of the investigating agency.
Later, the CBI issued a statement saying “probe in Bofors case to continue” and detailing the court observation that its nod was not needed for a probe.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Navin Kumar Kashyap observed that “for the reason best known to the CBI, in case they want to withdraw the application, they have the right as they are the applicants”.
“However, it is surprised… if the court would not have given permission to further investigate the matter, it would have been against the larger public interest,” the CMM said. “They have filed the application for permission to probe the matter on the ground that they have come across fresh material and evidence. Now, if they want to withdraw, it is allowed accordingly.”
The court also observed that the CBI can place all files related to the case in the court only if they wish to proceed in the matter. It reiterated that the CBI did not need the court’s permission to probe the case as they can independently investigate the case.
Later, the CBI, in a statement, said: “In view of certain revelations made by one Michael Hershman, CBI sought the permission of the Trial Court to conduct further investigation in the Bofors Case. The Court of CMM, Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi had observed on May 8, 2019 that when independent right and power is available with CBI to further investigate the matter on their own if in their wisdom it is necessary to do so then, why still such application is being filed in the court and fixed the next date of hearing on 16.05.2019.”
“After obtaining legal opinion, CBI filed an application on 16.05.2019 in the Court of CMM, Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi stating that for conducting further investigation u/s 173 (8) Cr.PC, permission of the court is not mandatorily required by CBI and an intimation to the court in this regard will suffice,” the CBI said.
On February 1, 2018, the CBI had moved the lower court, seeking its nod to further probe the matter. Subsequently, advocate Ajay Agrawal, also moved an application supporting the agency’s request.
While it allowed the CBI to withdraw its application Thursday, the court pulled up Agrawal for his request to also withdraw his application. The CMM said Agrawal had wasted the court’s time and should be made to pay a fine. The court questioned the locus of the advocate in such a criminal matter and asked him to satisfy the court on this point on July 6.
On February 2, 2018, the CBI had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the May 31, 2005 judgment of the Delhi High Court discharging all accused in the case. On November 2, the Supreme Court dismissed the CBI appeal in which it had sought condonation of the 13-year delay in filing the appeal.
The CBI had decided to further probe the matter after the Attorney General had given it a verbal go-ahead to file the appeal in the case in which it cited the October 2017 interview of private detective Michael Hershman, alleging that the then Rajiv Gandhi government had sabotaged his probe.
The Delhi High Court had earlier exonerated the late Prime Minister in the case.