M A I N   N E W S

HC tells CBI to reply to Hindujas’ plea

New Delhi, May 4
The Delhi High Court today told the CBI to reply to a plea by the Hindujas seeking clarification of the court’s order directing the trial court to frame fresh charges in the Bofors kickback case.

While the Hindujas argued that Mr Justice J.D. Kapoor in his February 4 order had suggested one charge to be framed under Section 120-B (conspiracy) Indian Penal Code read with Section 420 (cheating) IPC, the trial court framed two seperate charges of conspiracy and cheating.

Feeling there was some confusion on the issue, Mr Justice R. S. Sodhi asked the Hindujas brothers to approach the Supreme Court in the regard. He, however, refused to stay the trial court proceedings in the case.

The judge also observed that the petitioners should not add to the confusion and let the trial court apply its independent mind and decide the matter.

On March 9, the High Court had dismissed a plea by the Hindujas that it be left to the Metropolitan Magistrate to consider afresh the ‘suggested’ charges of cheating and conspiracy in connection with the Bofors gun deal.

After hearing both sides, Mr Justice Kapoor said the plea was misconceived and not maintainable. He, however, gave liberty to the petitioners to move the Supreme Court in appeal against the court’s February 4 order that the Hindujas were seeking to modify.

‘’I am afraid the applications are misconceived... the petitions (of all three Hinduja brothers) before this court challenging the said order were disposed of after hearing extensive arguments by both the parties (petitioners and the CBI). While deciding these petitions, this court has ordered the trial court to frame charges against the Hinduja brothers for the offences punishable under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code,’’ the Judge said.

‘’I do no perceive any reason whatsoever to modify the said order, as prayed by the petitioners. The applications are dismissed being not maintainable and misconceived. However, appropriate remedy available to the petitioners is by way of filing the petitions before the Supreme Court.’’

Quashing the charges against the Hindujas and the AB Bofors Company of bribing public servants, the High Court on February 4 took the matter away from the CBI Special Court, which was hearing the case till then, and sent to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, who was told that it should be taken up on a day-to-day basis and proceedings concluded as expeditiously as possible.

Mr Justice Kapoor had, however, directed that charges needed to be framed against the three Hinduja brothers—Shrichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand—for the offence of entering into a criminal conspiracy between April 1985 and March 1986 to cheat the government by fraudulently and dishonestly representing that there were no agents involved in the negotiations for the 155 mm Bofors Guns.

Charges were also to be framed for the offence of quoting the price (of the gun) as the reduced one (minus any sort of commission amount), thereby inducing the government to award the contract to Bofors and caused wrongful loss to the government (to the tune of Rs 64 crore) to the extent of the amount paid as commission to the agents— Hindujas, Win Chadha and Quattrocchi.

The judge also ordered framing of charges against Bofors (now known as Kartongen Kemi Och Forvaltning AB) for making false documents in this connection. — UNI

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