A Bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, has admitted the appeal against the Delhi High Court judgment of May 31, 2005, seeking the reversal of the quashed charges against the Europe-based Hinduja brothers and has set it for an early hearing date.
The petition, which was filed by the Advocate turned BJP leader, Mr. Ajay Kumar Agarwal had been filed in October 18, 2005 after the Central Bureau of Investigation failed to approach the Hon’ble Court within the 90 days deadline following the HIgh Court verdict.
After the petition was delayed for almost 11 years, Mr. Agarwal filed for an early hearing. He had also alleged that the alleged crimes were committed continuously till 2006, when two London accounts held by Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrochi, who was accused as being one of the middlemen in the deal, were de-freezed.
This step was taken and assumed significance, in wake of demand in Parliament by ruling BJP MPs for the reopening of the probe into the Bofors kickback scandal after the media reports quoting Swedish chief investigator Sten Lindstrom’s suggested alleged bribery at the top level.
The facts in the present case dictate as follows, India signed a Rs 1,437-crore deal with Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400, Howitzer guns for the Army. A year later, on April 16, 1987, a Swedish radio channel alleged that the company had bribed top Indian politicians and defence personnel to secure the contract. On January 22, 1990, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lodged an FIR against the then Bofors president, Mr. Martin Ardbo, the alleged middleman Mr. Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery. Two charge-sheets were subsequently filed against all the accused involved.
After the Delhi High Court passed the order of quashing the FIRs against the accused and the CBI failed to file an appeal, the petition was filed and heard in the Apex Court.