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Bofors case: Application filed in SC seeks early hearing of plea against Delhi HC verdict

Bofors case: Application filed in SC seeks early hearing of plea against Delhi HC verdict thumbnail

An application has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking early hearing on a petition challenging the Delhi High Court’s 2005 verdict which quashed all charges, including against the Hinduja brothers, in the politically-sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case.

The application, filed by advocate Ajay Agrawal, has said that the apex court had on November 2, 2018 dismissed the CBI’s plea against the high court verdict and had said that the probe agency can raise all grounds in the appeal filed by him against the same judgement.

Agrawal said he had filed the petition in the top court against the high court verdict in 2005 itself and over three decades have gone by since the matter came into light.

“It is expedient in the interest of justice that the matter be heard at an early date,” the application said, adding that there have been “recurrence of scams” in the defence sector since the accused in the Bofors case “have not been punished”.

It said three years have gone by since the top court had passed the November 2018 order and the matter has not been listed for hearing.

In its November 2, 2018 order, the top court had rejected the CBI plea seeking condonation of 13-year delay in filing the appeal against the May 31, 2005 judgement of the high court saying it is not convinced with the grounds furnished by the agency.

“We are not convinced with the grounds furnished by the petitioner for the inordinate delay of 4,522 days in filing the present Special Leave Petitions,” the apex court had said in its order.

The high court in its 2005 judgement had quashed all charges against the three Hinduja brothers — S P Hinduja, G P Hinduja and P P Hinduja — and the Bofors company.

Before the 2005 verdict, the high court had on February 4, 2004, exonerated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the case and directed the framing of charge of forgery under section 465 of the Indian Penal Code against Bofors company.

The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 units of 155 mm 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 Indian Penal Code 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, Italian businessman and alleged middleman Ottavio Quattrocchi, the then defence secretary S K Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company.

A supplementary charge sheet was filed against the Hinduja brothers 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.

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