New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging a 2005 order of the Delhi High Court that quashed all charges against the Hinduja brothers, Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand, in the Bofors case.

It was dismissed by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi due to the delay of 12 years by the investigative agency in approaching the apex court following the high court verdict.

Under the law, there is a 90-day period within which an appeal must be filed in a higher court.

The apex court, however, granted the CBI the liberty to place its stance on the issue in another pending plea brought by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ajay Kumar Agarwal in 2005, in which the CBI is a party.

On 31 May 2005, Justice R.S. Sodhi had quashed all charges against the Hinduja brothers and the Bofors company and castigated the CBI for its handling of the case, saying it had cost the exchequer about 250 crore.

The apex court is also hearing another petition challenging the quashing of the order. BJP leader and advocate Ajay Agarwal, the petitioner in the case, was questioned by the court in January.

The court had asked Agarwal to explain in what capacity he could seek the reopening of the case. “Explain your locus standi in filing an appeal in Bofors case quashed by the Delhi high court. You are not a party in the case," the court said.

In October last year, the CBI had sought permission to file a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the discharge of the accused involved in the case.

Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal had advised the agency against it as it was likely to be rejected on grounds of delay.

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