Bofors case: Trial court to hear the case tomorrow

A BJP leader, who has been pursuing the politically-sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case for over a decade, today filed an application before a Delhi court asking it to grant permission to the CBI to reinvestigate the case.

Advocate Ajay Agrawal, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli against the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, moved the plea before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ashu Garg, claiming that serious miscarriage of justice will occur if permission is not granted to the agency in view of new evidence emerging in the case.

The court said it will take up the application tomorrow when it is scheduled to hear a CBI plea seeking a direction to allow it to go for further probe in case on the ground that the agency has come across fresh material and evidence.

In his plea, he said the entire record of the case was sent to the Supreme Court where his appeal against the May 31, 2005 judgment of the Delhi High Court quashing all charges against accused persons, was pending.

The BJP leader had filed an appeal in 2005 as the CBI had failed to move the special leave petition (SLP) within the stipulated 90 days of the high court judgement.

Agrawal had earlier asked the CBI to make its stand clear by filing documents on the case as respondent in his appeal.

The CBI had on February 1 moved the trial court seeking a direction to allow it to go for further probe into the case, saying the agency had come across fresh material and evidence.

A day after, the agency also filed the appeal after more than 12 years in the Supreme Court against the May 31, 2005 decision of the high court.

The agency swung into action after the attorney general orally gave it a go ahead to file the appeal in the case in which it cited the October 2017 interview of private detective Michael Hershman, who alleged that the then Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government had sabotaged his probe.

Justice R S Sodhi (since retired) of the Delhi High Court on May 31, 2005, had quashed the CBI case in the Bofors pay-off scam.

Before the 2005 verdict of Justice Sodhi, another judge of the Delhi High Court, retired Justice J D Kapoor, had on February 4, 2004, exonerated the late prime minister in the case and directed the framing of charge of forgery under section 465 of the IPC against 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 March 24, 1986.

Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, had claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.

The CBI on January 22, 1990 had registered the 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 charge sheet in the case was filed on October 22, 1999, against Chadda, Ottavio Quattrocchi, the then defence secretary S K Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company.

A supplementary charge sheet was filed against the Hinduja brothers -- S P Hinduja, G P Hinduja and P P Hinduja -- on October 9, 2000.

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

Quattrocchi, who had fled from India on July 29-30, 1993, never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution.

He passed away on July 13, 2013. The other accused persons who died are Bhatnagar, Ardbo and Chadda.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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