Bofors Case: Application in SC Seeking Early Hearing of Plea against HC Order

Bofors Case

An application has been filed in the Supreme Court, urging an expedited hearing of a petition challenging the Delhi High Court’s 2005 ruling that dismissed all charges, including those against the Hinduja brothers, in the politically sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case.

Advocate Ajay Agrawal filed the application, asserting that the apex court, on November 2, 2018, dismissed the CBI’s plea against the high court’s decision, instructing the probe agency to present all grounds in the appeal filed by him against the same judgement.

Agrawal mentioned that he originally filed the petition in the top court against the high court’s decision in 2005 itself, and more than three decades have passed since the matter came to light.

Approximately 16 years have elapsed since the filing of this case by the applicant, and 35 years have passed since the occurrence of this scandal. All the accused individuals have passed away except the Hinduja Brothers.

“Since the accused in this inaugural scandal, the Bofors scam, have not been penalized, there have been recurrences of scams in the defence sector. It is imperative in the interest of justice that the matter be heard promptly,” the plea stated.

In its November 2, 2018 order, the apex court dismissed the CBI’s plea seeking condonation of a 13-year delay in filing the appeal against the May 31, 2005 judgement of the high court, stating it was unconvinced with the grounds provided by the agency.

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

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

Prior to the 2005 verdict, the high court, on February 4, 2004, absolved former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the case and directed the framing of charges of forgery under section 465 of the Indian Penal Code against AB Bofors, formerly a Swedish arms manufacturing company which is now part of BAE Systems of the UK.

The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and AB Bofors for the supply of 400 units of 155 mm Howitzer guns for the Indian Army was signed on March 24, 1986.

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

The CBI registered the FIR on January 22, 1990, alleging 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 was alleged that certain public servants and private persons in India and abroad entered into a criminal conspiracy between 1982 and 1987, resulting in offences of bribery, corruption, cheating, and forgery.

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 discharged Quattrocchi from the case on March 4, 2011, stating that the country could not afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition, which had already cost Rs 250 crore.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte