‘We can still nail the Bofors scam accused’

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Bofors case petitioner Ajay Agrawal tells Kunal Majumder that the CBI is under pressure from its political masters

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Why shouldn’t the Bofors case be closed?
The word ‘scam’ was first used at the time of the Bofors case. Before that, corruption cases were called scandals. The corruption in the Bofors deal occurred in the purchase of Howitzers and therefore directly concerned with the security of the country. People anxiously waited for the accused to be punished since it relates to corruption at the highest level. Now they feel hopeless about our judicial system. The investigation was completed a long time ago and a chargesheet was filed on 22 October 1999. Therefore, the only thing left to do is prosecute the accused. But this was scuttled by the country’s so-called ‘premier investigation agency’ under instructions of its political masters to please UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, because of her proximity to one of the accused — Ottavio Quattrocchi.

The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) says continuing the investigation makes no sense as the exchequer has spent more than Rs. 250 crore to probe a scam worth Rs. 65 crore. Isn’t that a valid argument?
The CMM is wrong. This amount had figured in a Delhi High Court order dated 31 May 2005 in which the judge stated, “I was given to understand that it cost the exchequer nearly Rs. 250 crore.” This remark was based on a CBI notesheet that I had produced while arguing orally. It was also put on record, with top CBI officers noting it as “a superfluous remark”. They made it one of the pleas for challenging the order before the Supreme Court. Still the CMM used it as one of the major reasons for withdrawing prosecution charges against Quattrocchi. This is also a clear-cut case of judicial dishonesty and corruption. I want to clarify one more thing. The kickback paid was around Rs. 200 crore and not Rs. 65 crore. In fact, Rs. 60-65 crore was paid to three middlemen — Quattrocchi, Win Chadha and the Hinduja brothers — in flagrant violation of the undertaking submitted by Bofors to the Indian government that no middleman shall be engaged in the deal.

In spite of the time and money spent on the case, why haven’t we seen any result? Is there any political pressure?
It is all because of the Gandhi family’s relationship with Quattrocchi. Congress-led governments have always scuttled the probe and prosecution. The CBI put in its best effort whenever it had a free hand. The CBI has all the evidence that can nail the accused but it failed to get the guilty convicted due to pressure from its political masters.

Hasn’t the Bofors case become a legal football? It is being kicked around back and forth between different courts.
I am sorry to say that our courts were misused on many occasions. This has put a question mark on the credibility of our judiciary. The guilty haven’t been punished. Scams worth lakhs of crores are happening in this country.

What is the acceptable conclusion to the case?
The conclusion would be a fair trial of the accused but the CBI has failed in its duty to produce them before the courts.

Quattrocchi has been let off by the trial court. Is that the last nail in the coffin?
No. The case will be taken to its logical conclusion. Millions of people are disturbed to see such an order. Many rightthinking people want to join our battle. The fight will continue in the courts and also in the people’s courts. One day we will surely see the accused in the Bofors scam nailed.

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