After major blow in trial court, CBI approaches High Court against arms dealer Abhishek Verma

The verdict by a lower court – now being challenged by the CBI – had put all agency cases against Abhishek Verma on a weak wicket as it had struck at the core of the prosecution argument.

After suffering a major blow in a lower court that threatened to dilute all its cases against arms dealer Abhishek Verma, the Central Bureau of Investigation has approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the earlier verdict. In its verdict, the lower court had discharged its investigations into alleged bribery to get a foreign military firm off a government blacklist.

The decision to go with an appeal in the higher court was taken after deliberations for over two months following the verdict by a special court. The verdict had squashed the allegations made by the CBI that Verma had received payments of $ 5,30,000 to influence government officials. The case has been listed for its next hearing in October.

The case dismissal was critical to the CBI as it would have had implications on several other more serious investigations against Verma as well, including an alleged breach of the Official Secrets Act, forgery and cheating.

Special CBI judge Anju Bajaj Chandna had, on April 26, dismissed the CBI’s contention that the agent had received funds from the arms company Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) in order to get it off the blacklist. RAD is currently under a ten-year ban by the government. A connected Enforcement Directorate case was also dismissed.

Both RAD and its now retired top executive Gerhard Hoy, who was named in the case, got off the hook. The court judgment had questioned CBI relying on evidence given by Verma’s former escrow agent, C. Edmonds Allen, the whistle-blower based in New York.

The special judge had said that if the prosecution argument was to be believed, Allen too should have been booked. The judgment had also raised questions on CBI relying on email evidence shared by Allen that formed the core of its investigations, saying that they are not admissible as proof under the Indian Evidence Act.

The stage is now set for a long legal haul as the CBI will once again make its arguments before the higher court. Meanwhile, other cases against Verma are continuing, including the most controversial one, in which he has been accused of leaking some of the most sensitive documents related to procurement and purchase planning of the armed forces.

 

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