Delhi court to hear CBI's plea for further investigation into Bofors case on 4 December; agency claims it has fresh evidence

New Delhi: A Delhi court has decided to hear on 4 December the CBI's plea seeking a direction to allow it to go for further probe into the politically sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case.

The matter came up before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ashu Garg, who deferred the matter after noting the submission of advocate and BJP leader Ajay Agrawal that the original records will come back to the court after the Supreme Court hears his matter, which is likely to come up for hearing in the second week of October.

The court was told that the original records file pe rtaining to the case was with the apex court. It had earlier deferred the matter due to unavailability of the documents provided to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court was seized of Agrawal's plea challenging the 31 May, 2005, verdict of the Delhi High Court quashing all charges against the accused.

An Indian soldier stands next to a howitzer during preview of army exhibition in Bombay. Reuters

An Indian soldier stands next to a howitzer during preview of army exhibition in Bombay. Reuters

Agrawal, who had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli against then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, had filed the appeal in the top court after the CBI had failed to challenge the high court verdict within the mandatory 90-day period.

The CBI had on 1 February moved the trial court, seeking permission for further probe in the matter, saying it had come across fresh material and evidence. A day later, it had also filed an appeal against the high court decision in the Supreme Court. After the CBI, the BJP leader had also moved the trial court supporting the plea of the probe agency in the case.

The agency had swung into action after the Attorney General of India had orally given it a go ahead to file the appeal in the case, in which it cited the October 2017 interview of private detective Michael Hershman, alleging that the then Rajiv Gandhi government had sabotaged his probe.

Justice RS Sodhi (since retired) of the Delhi High Court had, on 31 May, 2005, quashed the CBI case in the Bofors payoff scam.

Before the 2005 verdict, another Delhi High Court judge, Justice JD Kapoor (since retired), had, on 4 February, 2004 exonerated the late prime minister in the case and directed the framing of forgery charges under section 465 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the Bofors company.

The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm howitzer guns for the Indian Army was entered into on 24 March, 1986. On 16 April, 1987, had claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.

The CBI on 22 January, 1990, had registered an FIR for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the IPC and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Martin Ardbo, the then president of AB Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers. It had alleged that certain public servants and private persons in India and abroad had entered into a criminal conspiracy between 1982 and 1987, in pursuance of which the offences of bribery, corruption, cheating and forgery were committed.

The first chargesheet in the case was filed on 22 October, 1999, against Chadda, Ottavio Quattrocchi, the then defence secretary SK Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company. A supplementary chargesheet was filed against the Hinduja brothers — SP Hinduja, GP Hinduja and PP Hinduja — on 9 October, 2000.

A special CBI court in Delhi on 4 March, 2011, had discharged Quattrocchi from the case, saying that the country could not afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition, which had already cost Rs 250 crore.

Quattrocchi, who had fled India on July 29 and 30, 1993, never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution. He passed away on 13 July, 2013. The other accused who died are Bhatnagar, Ardbo and Chadda.


Updated Date: Sep 30, 2018 19:31 PM

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