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Bofors case: Crucial hearing in Supreme Court on Friday

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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