CBI’s director of prosecution (DoP) S K Sharma, who handed over the documentation to the Argentinian authorities in the Ottavio Quattrocchi extradition case, has a record of disagreement with the agency in key corruption cases, including Bofors.
In fact, in 2005, it was Sharma, a Joint-Secretary level officer attached with the Law Ministry — he has been with the CBI for over nine years — who argued against filing an appeal against the Delhi High Court judgment which quashed the proceedings against the Hinduja brothers.
It was none other than his Boss, Law Minister H R Bharadwaj, who publicly quoted Sharma’s opinion on the matter.
The DoP, Bharadwaj had said, had given opinion that it would be a “traversty of justice” if the CBI had appealed against the High Court verdict.
The uncontested High Court verdict was one of the factors that eventually led to the defreezing of Quattrocchi’s accounts in London in January 2006.
At that time, the fact that it was Additional Solicitor General B Dutta who traveled to London and told the British authorities that CBI had no objection to the defreezing had also generated a lot of flak.
And as The Indian Express had then learnt, the advice that Dutta, not a CBI official, should deal with the British authorities was given by Sharma.
Besides the Bofors case, there have been several other cases in which Sharma’s legal opinion has clashed with that of CBI’s own investigators.
The most glaring is the Taj Heritage Corridor case, in which the DoP had on file argued against the prosecution of former Chief Minister Mayawati, while CBI sleuths were in favor of prosecuting her.
This led to the then Director U S Mishra seeking further advice from Attorney General Milon Banerjee. It was only a few weeks ago that the Supreme Court found a way out and asked the CBI to seek the sanction to prosecute Mayawati and submit the same to the designated court in Lucknow.
Another noteworthy case was the Pathribal massacre in Jammu and Kashmir in which too, the DoP disagreed with CBI sleuths and had argued against the prosecution of guilty army officials.
In this case, the DoP’s opinion had been over ruled by CBI Director, Vijay Shankar and the military personnel were chargesheeted.