Advocate Ajay Aggarwal has written to Attorney General KK Venugopal, requesting him to ask the Central Bureau of Investigation to immediately file a reply affidavit in the Bofors case, ANI reported on Tuesday. The Supreme Court will next hear an appeal by Aggarwal, also a BJP leader, in the case on February 2.
In September 2017, the court had agreed to hear the appeal Aggarwal had filed in 2005 in his personal capacity, against a Delhi High Court order quashing charges against the Hinduja brothers in the Bofors pay-off scam. He had done so after the CBI, which conducted an inquiry into the case, failed to challenge the order within the 90-day period.
On January 16, the Supreme Court had asked Aggarwal to explain his locus standi in filing the appeal. The court asked him how a person who is not party in the matter can seek reopening of a criminal case.
Venugopal has advised the government that the CBI should not file a special leave petition against the 2005 Delhi High Court order, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. He said the court was likely to dismiss the petition on grounds of delay. Instead, the CBI should present its stand during the hearing of Aggarwal’s appeal, he said.
The Bofors scandal
The scam dates back to the late 1980s when the Congress was in power with Rajiv Gandhi as the prime minister. The Indian government had signed a $1.4-billion (Rs 9,568 crore approximately) defence deal with Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors for 410 field howitzer guns and a supply contract in March 1986.
In April 1987, Swedish Radio claimed that the company paid bribes to senior Indian politicians and Army personnel to secure the deal. Gandhi was also implicated in the case.
In 1990, the CBI registered a First Information Report for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code, as well as for corruption, against Martin Ardbo, who was then the president of Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers. The first chargesheet was filed in the case in 1999. A special CBI court in Delhi had in 2011 discharged Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the case.