NEW DELHI: After 12 long years, the Supreme Court is all set to hear the Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case in October. BJP leader and advocate Ajay Kumar Agarwal had filed a plea for an early hearing in the case in 2005. A three judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra has posted final hearing on the case for second week of October.
During a brief hearing, advocate Ajay Agarwal, who had challenged the Delhi High Court order of 2005 acquitting Europe-based Hinduja brothers in the Bofors case, told the bench that the case should be heard at the earliest.
The apex court had on October 18, 2005, admitted Agarwal’s petition which was filed after the CBI failed to approach the 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 BJP MPs for reopening the probe into the Bofors kickbacks scandal after media reports quoting Swedish chief investigator Sten Lindstrom alleged there was bribery at the top level.
The Rs 1,437 crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm Howitzer guns for the Indian army was finalised on March 24, 1986. The Swedish Radio had on April 16, 1987, claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel for the deal.
The first chargesheet in the case was filed on October 22, 1999, against alleged middleman Win Chadda, Italian businessman and another alleged middleman Ottavio Quattrocchi, then defence secretary S K Bhatnagar, then President of AB Bofors Martin Ardbo and the Bofors company.
A special CBI court in Delhi had on March 4, 2011, discharged Quattrocchi from the case saying the country cannot afford to spend money on his extradition which had already cost Rs 250 crore.