The politically-sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors pay-off case was back in the limelight on Friday, with the Supreme Court agreeing to hear BJP leader Ajay Kumar Agarwal’s appeal challenging a Delhi High Court order in 2005 quashing charges against Europe-based industrialists Hinduja brothers.
A bench led by chief justice Dipak Misra agreed with BJP leader and advocate Ajay Kumar Agarwal that his appeal against the Delhi High Court May 31, 2005 judgment, quashing all charges against the Hinduja brothers, had been pending for long. He had sought early hearing in the matter.
The chief justice said the case would be listed in the week commencing October 8, 2017.
The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish company AB Bofors for supply of 400 155mm Howitzer guns for the Indian Army was struck in March 1986. After an year, the Swedish Radio claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel. The apex court had in October 2005 admitted Agarwal’s petition, which was filed after the CBI failed to appeal within the 90-day deadline following the Delhi High Court verdict that quashed all charges against the Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand — and the Bofors company and castigated the CBI for its handling of the case, saying it had cost the exchequer about Rs 250 crore.
Another HC judge had in February 2004 exonerated late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the case and directed framing of the charge of forgery under Section 465 of IPC against the Bofors company. On March 4, 2011, a special CBI court had discharged Quattrocchi from the case. Quattrocchi, who died in July 2013, had fled from New Delhi on July 29-30, 1993 and never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution.