CIC ticks off CBI for tardy progress in Bofors case
Posted by rtiact2005 on August 6, 2006
New Delhi, August 6
The Central Information Commission has flayed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for its tardy probe into the Bofors pay-off case, while rejecting the application of former Union Minister Arun Jaitley seeking papers relating to the de-freezing of the bank accounts of the Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.
“The CBI is directed to expedite the investigation in the matter lest its credibility should get unduly tarnished,” Information Commissioner Prof M M Ansari in his 15-page order said.
“The CBI has been investigating the case for nearly 16 years without much success. Though the CBI has claimed exemptions from disclosure of information on valid grounds….these exemptions would not be available after the expiry of 20 years of such public action under the provisions of the Right to Information Act,” he observed.
Mr Jaitley, a Rajya Sabha MP, had sought all documents, manuscripts and files pertaining to the freezing of bank account Nos 5A5151516M and 5A5151516L, maintained at London by Ottavrio Quattrocchi and his wife Maria Quattrocchi, by the Queen’s High Court in January this year. The money in these accounts was withdrawn the day London court passed the order.
The investigating agency informed the CIC that the issue of freezing and de-freezing of the accounts of Quattrocchi was “not a closed matter”, attempts were being made to get the Italian business extradited, against whom red-corner notice and non-bailable warrants were pending and the communication with other external agencies, which were cooperating on the matter were “privileged communication.”
The agency informed the commission that it was still investigating the source of funds from Switzerland to London and a letter of Rogatory had been issued by the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, in April this year and is under execution.
“When the court is duly seized of the matter and prosecution has started the case, the exemption from disclosure of information under section 8(1)(h) of the Act has been correctly applied by the CBI Appellate Authority,” the commission said in its decision.
The CBI informed the commission that the bank accounts were freezed for a limited period by the order of the court in London to enable the CBI to determine the sources of funds and to ascertain whether the money attributable to the receipt as commission from suspected sources was credited in those accounts.
“The action of freezing of the accounts was taken on the basis of suspicion of having received the commission, which could not be verified and proved by the CBI till now,” the agency told the commission.
The investigating agency told the CIC that Mr B Dutta, Additional Solicitor-General, was deputed to appraise the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the UK about the progress made by the CBI with regard to its investigation.
“Subsequently, the said accounts were defreezed on the advise of the Queen’s High Court to the bank concerned. The CPIO also mentioned that Dutta has not made any written submission to the CPS nor did he advise them on the matter in any form,” the agency contended.
However, this was objected by the applicants representative, who claimed that Dutta had advised them for de-freezing the accounts, which got revealed when a fax message was received from CPS indicating the advise to CPS given by Dutta to which a confirmation was sought from the CBI.
The CBI had registered a case in January 1990 under various sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act on allegations of a criminal conspiracy during 1982-97 to the extent of Rs 64 crore in the purchase of 410 FH-77 guns from A B Bofors. The FIR was registered based on the source information and the report of Joint Parliamentary Committee, Report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India and others.