The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has confirmed that it will continue its investigation in the high-profile Bofors case to probe the alleged Rs 64 crore kickbacks in the purchase of the Swedish artillery guns. Earlier, the agency had on February 1, 2018, submitted before Chief Judicial Magistrate (CMM) Navin Kashyap that it wanted to withdraw the case.
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To continue with the investigation of the politically-sensitive case, CBI had sought the permission of the trial court. The investigating agency had filed an application in the Court of CMM, Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi on May 16, 2019.
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According to CBI Spokesperson Nitin Wakankar, the agency had sought the permission after certain revelations were made by Michael Hershman. “In view of certain revelations made by one Michael Hershman, CBI had sought the permission of the trial court to conduct further investigation in the Bofors case,” Wakankar said.
Michael Hershman is the President of the Fairfax Group and Co-Founder of Transparency International, and an internationally recognized expert on matters relating to transparency, accountability, governance, litigation and security. Michael Hershman was the one who had first found the Bofors papers and broke the scam.
“After obtaining legal opinion, CBI filed an application on May 16, 2019 in the court of CMM, Rouse Avenue Courts, New Delhi, stating that for conducting further investigation under section 173(8) of CrPC, permission of the court is not mandatorily required by CBI and an intimation to the court in this regard will suffice,” he added.
He further added that on May 8, the court had observed that CBI had the independent right and power to investigate the case on its own.
The Bofors deal was signed between Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors AB and the Indian Army worth Rs 1,437, crore for the supply of four hundred 155mm Howitzer guns. There were allegations that the company had paid bribes to Indian politicians and defence personnel. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was also alleged to have received kickbacks from this deal.
The Bofors issue was recently raked up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. The PM, while countering Rahul Gandhi’s incessant allegations on the Rafale deal had said, “Your father was termed ‘Mr Clean’ by his courtiers, but his life ended as ‘Bhrashtachari No. 1′ (No. 1 corrupt person).”