By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) On a day when CBI said it will continue its probe in Bofors kickbacks case, advocate Ajay Aggarwal, who once spearheaded the case, claimed the “BJP does not want the investigations to conclude on Bofors; instead they want to delay it as much as possible for political and electoral gains.”
For many years, Aggarwal was the legal face of the BJP, who pursued Bofors at every level of judiciary in the country. He had contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Rai Bareli against then Congress President Sonia Gandhi. According to him, Rs 4.77 crore has already been spent on the investigation of Bofors case.
Aggarwal, as a private petitioner, told a CBI special court that he wanted to withdraw his plea seeking further probe in the Bofors case. He thinks Bofors is already a deadwood in the wake of several delays in its investigation.
Of late he has also emerged as a leading dissenter in the party, disagreeing with its functioning and polices, especially the centralization of power in the hands of a few people. Although, he is yet to make a formal exit from the party, if given a chance, he minces no words in hitting out at the party for its “failure” on Bofors case.
Though, he has not been considered for the poll fray in this election; he denies it as a reason for his bitterness for the BJP.
Speaking to IANS, Aggarwal said: “The CBI is acting under political pressure. In October 2017, they got a lead from the television interview of one private Swedish investigator who alleged that Rajiv Gandhi government stalled the investigations. They sat on the complaint for six months. In February 2018, they moved the CBI court to continue investigations, so far they have not done anything; it’s already been nearly two years.”
On December 4, 2018, the court had questioned the CBI why it needed its permission to continue with the probe in the Bofors case.
In February 2018, the CBI filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the May 31, 2005 verdict of the Delhi high Court discharging all the accused in the case.
In November 2018, the CBI failed to convince the apex court to re-open the case. It sought condonation of the 13-year delay in filing the appeal against the high court judgment.
However, one of the appeals still survives in the Supreme Court, wherein CBI is one of the respondents.
Aggarwal had filed the appeal against the high court verdict, as CBI failed to file the appeal within the manadatory 90-days period.
Aggarwal said: “The BJP has lost the conviction to allow any probe to come to an end in this case. For BJP, Bofors is an election pitch, and an issue that can be kept alive to draw people’s attention especially during elections. The CBI is acting like a caged parrot for this particular case.”
On March 24, 1986, India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors entered into a deal of Rs 1,437-crore for the supply of 400 155mm howitzer guns for the Indian Army. In 1987, Swedish Radio claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel to grab the deal.
The CBI on January 22, 1990 registered an FIR for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the India Penal Code and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Martin Ardbo, the then president of AB Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadha and the billionaire Hinduja brothers.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])