NEW DELHI: Interpol has turned down New Delhi’s request to provide international assistance to trace fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, wanted in India for violations of the Official Secrets Act. It means that Bhandari can freely roam across the world without any restrictions, despite the arrest warrant issued against him in India. The latest jolt to Indian investigating agencies comes in the wake of a legal tussle with the UK authorities to expedite extradition of fugitive Vijay Mallya, leading to a huge embarrassment.
As per sources, the Interpol has refused to issue Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Bhandari on the request of the Delhi Police in January through CBI. The RCN is an arrest warrant circulated by Interpol on behalf of the government of a country.
“Interpol has objected to the RCN sought by the Indian investigating agencies, citing weak legal case,” a senior government official confirmed. Generally, RCN is issued by the Interpol within 2-3 days of request by any country. Bhandari was charged by the Delh Police under Sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act in October last year after the Income Tax sleuths recovered confidential defence documents during a search on his premises in April.
Investigating agencies suspected Bhandari reached London via Nepal, evading a look-out notice issued against him. earlier stopped from boarding a London-bound British Airways flight in June in Delhi. London, sources said, is becoming a safe and luxurious refuge for Indians fleeing the law enforcement agencies.
Bhandari would join at least 57 other tainted individuals, who—law enforcement agencies suspect—are living with ease in the UK.
A case was registered in October last year on a complaint by a senior defence ministry official that the documents and copies of classified papers recovered during the raid were violative of the Official Secrets Act.
Investigators claimed that they are examining Bhandari’s alleged links with Thales group, a French multinational company, and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company that makes commercial and military aircraft, space systems and other defence products.
Bhandari, investigators suspect, is involved in Indian Air Force’s basic trainer aircraft purchase for which a deal worth around `4,000 crore was signed during the previous UPA regime in 2012. During the April 27 I-T raids at Bhandari’s south Delhi residence, investigators are believed to have found emails, linking Bhandari with Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, which was later denied by Vadra’s lawyers.