C Times, 1st September 2017, Agartala
The Bofors ghost is back after 12 years, the Supreme Court on Friday posting the final hearing in the Rs 64-crore pay-off case in October. The final hearing in the Bofors case will commence in the second week of October.
The Supreme Court today agreed to hear an appeal filed by BJP leader and advocate Ajay Kumar Agarwal challenging a 2005 Delhi High Court order quashing charges against Europe-based industrialists, the Hinduja brothers in the politically sensitive Bofors pay-off case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and Justices D Y Chandrachud is scheduled to take up the plea. The apex court had on October 18, 2005, admitted his petition which was filed after the CBI failed to approach the court with the appeal within the 90-days deadline following the HC verdict.
Agarwal, who had contested the Rai Bareli Lok Sabha elections in 2014 against Congress President Sonia Gandhi, had said he will also draw the attention of the apex court that he had written a letter to the Enforcement Directorate seeking investigation into the trail of the kickback money under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
Mr Agarwal has filed an application for early hearing. The Chief Justice said the case would be listed in the week commencing October 8, 2017.
The apex court had on October 18, 2005, admitted his petition which was filed after the CBI failed to approach the top court with the appeal within the 90-day deadline following the High Court verdict.
The hearing assumes significance in the wake of a demand in Parliament by ruling BJP MPs for reopening of the probe into the Bofors kickback scandal after the media reports quoting Swedish chief investigator Sten Lindstrom’s suggested the alleged bribery at the top level.
In the July 28 letter to the ED, he has claimed that the alleged crimes were committed continuously till the year 2006 when two London accounts held by Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was accused of being one of the middlemen in the deal, were de-freeze.
The CBI had on January 22, 1990, registered the FIR for the alleged offence of criminal conspiracy, cheating, 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.
The CBI 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 22 October 1999 against Chadda, Ottavio Quattrocchi, then Defence Secretary S K Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors Company. A supplementary charge sheet against the Hinduja brothers was filed on October 9, 2000.
A special CBI court in Delhi had on 4th March 2011, discharged Quattrocchi from the case saying the country cannot afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which has already cost Rs 250 crore.