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Bofors case: Crucial hearing in Supreme Court on Friday

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Supreme Court

New Delhi | The Supreme Court is likely to hear on Friday the politically-sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case in which the CBI earlier this year filed an appeal after 12-year delay against the Delhi High Court decision quashing charges against all the accused.

The apex court will also hear a BJP leader and advocate Ajay Agrawal, who is pursuing the matter for over a decade and has been asked by it to explain his locus in filing the petition as a third party.

Agrawal, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli against the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has filed an appeal against May 31, 2005 judgement of the Delhi High Court.

The matter has been listed for hearing on October 12 before the bench comprising Justices R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee.

During the hearing on January 16, the top court had asked Agrawal to explain his locus in filing the appeal and satisfy it as to how the matter could be entertained at the instance of a third party.

The CBI had filed the appeal on February 2 this year.

Before the 2005 verdict of Justice R S Sodhi (since retired), another judge of the Delhi High Court, retired Justice J D Kapoor, had on February 4, 2004, exonerated the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the case and directed the framing of charge of forgery under section 465 of the IPC against Bofors company.

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 entered into on March 24, 1986.

Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, had claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.

The CBI on January 22, 1990 had registered the FIR for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Martin Ardbo, the then president of AB Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadda and the Hinduja brothers.

It had alleged that certain public servants and private persons in India and abroad had entered into a criminal conspiracy between 1982 and 1987 in pursuance of which the offences of bribery, corruption, cheating and forgery were committed.

The first charge sheet in the case was filed on October 22, 1999 against Chadda, Ottavio Quattrocchi, the then defence secretary S K Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company.

A supplementary charge sheet was filed against the Hinduja brothers on October 9, 2000.

A special CBI court in Delhi on March 4, 2011, had discharged Quattrocchi from the case saying the country could not afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which had already cost Rs 250 crore.

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Eight cattle smugglers arrested in Uttar Pradesh

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Cow; cattle

Bahraich (Uttar Pradesh) | Eight suspected cattle smugglers were arrested here when they were trying to move the livestock to Nepal, police said on Saturday.

Superintendent of Police Gaurav Grover said the police were tipped off about the smuggling in Rupaidiha and Nanpare area of the district which is close to the India-Nepal border.

On Friday, eight cattle smugglers, four of them history-sheeters, were arrested, while they were trying to flee to Nepal, he said. The members of the smugglers’ gang had also unsuccessfully tried to attack the policemen, the SP said.

He said four animals cows, unlicensed pistol, ammunition and a transportation vehicle have been recovered from the arrested accused.

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7 civilians among 11 killed in encounter, protests in J&K’s Pulwama

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Jammu and Kashmir; civilians

Srinagar | Seven civilians died in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Saturday when security forces allegedly opened fire at an unruly crowd that tried to storm the site of an encounter in which three militants and Army man were killed, police said.

The incident took place at Sirnoo village in the morning when the security forces laid siege to a locality based on intelligence reports about the presence of three militants, including an Army deserter – Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, in the area, police officials said.

As soon as the news about Thoker being trapped in an encounter spread, people started thronging the encounter site as the army deserter belonged to the same village, they said. Though the encounter ended in 25 minutes with the killing of the three militants, the security forces had a tough time as people started climbing onto Army vehicles, the officials said.

They said warning shots were fired but that did not deter the mob, forcing the security forces to open fire at the civilians. Seven civilians were killed and dozens of others injured, including a youth who’s condition was stated to be critical. Thoker had gone missing from an Army unit in the Gantmulla area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district in July last year.

He had decamped with his service rifle and three magazines and had joined the militant ranks. The security forces said Thoker was involved in several killings in Pullman district. The identities of two other militants were being ascertained.

The officials said an army jawan lost his life in the gunfight, while two other soldiers were critical. Authorities have snapped mobile internet facility in entire south Kashmir comprising four districts.

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President Kovind visits Statue of Unity, to lay foundation for railway station

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Kovind

Kevadiya (Gujarat) |President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday visited the Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, in Narmada district of Gujarat on the death anniversary of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai
Patel.

Kovind, accompanied by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state chief secretary J N Singh, began his visit in the morning by taking a stroll at the ‘Valley of Flowers’ developed near the 182-metre tall statue here. After planting a tree in memory of Patel, the president attended a prayer meeting at the statue complex.

The world’s tallest statue dedicated to Patel was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October. After offering tributes to Patel, Kovind visited the museum and exhibition area beneath the statue. He also visited the viewing gallery located at a height of 132 metres inside the statue.

Kovind then left the statue premises and headed to Kevadiya village, around 5 kms from the statue, to lay the
foundation stone for a railway station. The state-of-the-art railway station proposed to be built at a cost of Rs 20 crore, is aimed at providing direct rail connectivity to tourists visiting the Statue of Unity.

To connect Kevadiya with the main broad-gauge line, the Railways has sanctioned the work to convert 18-km
Dabhoi-Chandod narrow gauge into broad gauge and extension from Chandod to Kevadia by constructing a new 32-km line.

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