The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the order of a trial court last April discharging the company, a former employee, and two other individuals on charges of bribery.
Rheinmetall, along with former employee Gerhard Hoy, Indian national Abhishek Verma and his wife and colleague, Anca Neacsu, were accused of conspiracy to pay bribes to have the company removed from a defense ministry blacklist. The company was placed on a defense ministry blacklist in 2012, following a CBI investigation into allegations of corruption leveled against the then Director General Ordinance Factories, Sudipta Ghosh.
The CBI has asked the High Court to revive the non-bailable arrest warrant against Hoy and ‘pass ad-interim ex-parte order’ to set aside the order of the trial court, which acquitted Abhishek Verma, Anca Neacsu, Gerhard Hoy and Rheinmetall Air Defence.
The CBI has asked the High Court to ‘pass consequential orders directing the Trial Court to frame charges against the Respondent not. 1, 2, 2, & 4 under section 120-B IPC and substantive charge for offense under Section 8 of the prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and process with the trial in accordance with law.’
The trial court in this case had discharged all four defendants of corruption charges on April 26, 2017. The defendant Gerhard Hoy was allowed to participate in the trial proceedings by the court on April 19, 2017. This was after proceedings against Hoy were separated on December 12, 2015 because of his non-appearance before the court, in spite of outstanding non-bailable arrest warrants. A petition filed by Hoy on March 21, 2016 asking for the quashing of charges, recall of the non-bailable arrest warrant against him and permission to participate in the proceedings of the trial court is pending in the Delhi High Court.
The CBI has argued that the decision of April 19 is bad in law, claiming that it amounted to a review of its order of December 12, 2015, and that under law, no criminal court has the authority to review its own orders.
“The Ld. Special Judge ignored basic principals of law that criminal courts have no power/jurisdiction to review its own orders and failed to appreciate that once the proceedings qua the Respondent No. 3 (Gerhard Hoy) had already been separated vide order dated 01.12.2015, Ld. Special Judge had no power or authority to allow/permit the Respondent No. 3 to participate in the proceedings of the present case, without personally surrendering to the jurisdiction of the court. It is submitted that permitting the Respondent No. 3 to participate in the proceedings amount to review of its own order, which is not permissible in law,” argues the application.
The CBI says ‘passing an order discharging him (Hoy) is against all norms of procedure, particularly when the petition of the Respondent No. 3 seeking similar pleas was already pending before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and no interim orders had been passed in his favour granting any interim relief.’
Further, the CBI has also asked the High Court not to allow Gerhard Hoy to participate in the proceedings of the trial until he surrenders to the court.
The CBI has also argued that the trial court has failed to appreciate the facts of the case, calling order ‘based on mere conjectures and surmises and consideration that are not supported by the material on record’.
Besides this and other arguments, the CBI said that the absence of names of any public servant in the emails in evidence did not mean no offence had been committed, since Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 makes illegal gratification an offence in the context of public servants ‘whether named or otherwise’.
It may be noted, that the army has issued certain tenders for supply of ammunition to Indian companies recently, wherein vendors are allowed to tie-up with companies that may be blacklisted to bid for the orders. This is widely understood to allow blacklisted companies like Rheinmetall, Israel Military Industries and Singapore Technologies to become part of the supply chain for such such orders.