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Chandraswami acquitted  in St Kitts case
Legal Correspondent

Chandraswami shows the victory sign as he comes out of Tis Hazari Court in New Delhi on Monday.
Chandraswami shows the victory sign as he comes out of Tis Hazari Court in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, October 25
Curtains finally came down on the St Kitts episode after the 14-year-long legal battle, with a Special Court here today acquitting tantrik Chandraswami in the case. Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was earlier discharged in the case by the Delhi High Court.

The case related to alleged “forging” of certain bank documents to show that former Prime Minister V.P. Singh’s son Ajey Singh had an illegal account with First Trust Corporation Bank in St Kitts islands with a deposit of $21 million in 1986.

Acquitting Chandraswami, Special Judge Dinesh Dayal said “false attestation” of the said documents by then Indian Consul General in New York Deepak Sen Gupta and his deputy R.K. Rai was the main source of the forgery.

“The false attestation of the documents by such senior officers, resulted in giving a colour of authenticity to the whole story. We now know that the documents were forged and the statements (regarding bank account) were false”, said the court, which could not find any evidence that Chandraswami had participated in the forgery.

The bank documents had surfaced in 1989 at a time when Mr V.P. Singh had launched a campaign against then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the Bofors issue. As per the CBI case, the bank papers were forged in a conspiracy by then Foreign Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, his deputy K.K. Tewary, Chandraswami, his aide K.N. Aggrawal, alias Mamaji, and then Enforcement Director K.L. Verma.

While Rao and Tewary were discharged by the high court, Mamaji had died during the trial and Verma was discharged for want of sanction for his prosecution.

In fact, the CBI had not been able to procure the originals of the “forged documents” and had proceeded with the trial in the politically-sensitive case on the basis of photocopies of the papers.

The CBI, which had registered the FIR in 1990 after the V.P. Singh government came to power, had alleged that the conspiracy was “hatched” to tarnish the image of Mr V.P. Singh, as he had emerged a major challenge to Rajiv Gandhi.


Chronology of events in St Kitts case

New Delhi, October 25
The St Kitts forgery case, in which former Prime Minister V.P. Singh was sought to be defamed, dragged on for 14 years in the course of which most of the accused were either acquitted or died.

One of the key accused, self-styled spiritual guru Chandraswamy, was acquitted today, a milestone in the saga that began in 1989 with the publication of a news report.

August 1989: A report in Kuwait-based Arab Times newspaper alleges that then Janata Dal leader V.P. Singh was the main beneficiary of a secret bank account with deposits amounting to $21 million in the Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis.

September 1989: The Enforcement Directorate is asked to probe the charges.

October 1989: Enforcement Directorate officials visit St Kitts. Report presented in the Indian Parliament.

December 1989: Mr V.P. Singh becomes Prime Minister when Mr Rajiv Gandhi loses power after the Congress is defeated in the general election.

May 1990: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registers criminal cases against Enforcement Director K.L. Verma, Chandraswamy, his man Friday K.N. Aggarwal alias Mamaji, arms dealer Adnan Kashoggi’s son-in-law Larry J. Kolb and St. Kitts’ First Trust Corporation’s Managing Director George McLean.

November 1990: Mr V.P. Singh’s government falls.

March 1991: CBI official investigating the case transferred.

Till January 1996 the probe dragged on until the People’s Union for Civil Liberties moved the Supreme Court in February seeking disclosure of the CBI’s findings.

July 1996: Supreme Court tells CBI not to close probe against former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in the cases without its prior permission. CBI recommends Rao’s prosecution.

September 1996: CBI chargesheets Rao, Chandraswami, Mamaji and former Minister of State for External Affairs K.K. Tewari for criminal conspiracy to tarnish Mr V.P. Singh’s reputation.

October 1996: Non-bailable warrant issued against Mr Rao, who gets anticipatory bail the same day.

November 1996: Mr Rao’s bail plea rejected. He is asked to surrender on November 14. But Rao gets interim bail from Delhi High Court.

June 1997: Mr Rao and Mr Tewari acquitted due to lack of evidence, but the court orders framing of charges against Chandraswamy and his aide.

July 1997: Charges framed against Chandraswamy and Mamaji. Trial begins.

December 1999: High Court upholds trial court’s decision to discharge Mr Rao and Mr Tewari.

February 2001: Mr V.P. Singh’s son Ajeya deposes.

May 2001: V.P. Singh deposes.

August 2004: Chandraswamy tells the CBI court that Mr V.P. Singh’s Government falsely implicated him in the case. Mamaji dies of prostate cancer.

October 25, 2004: Chandraswamy acquitted. — IANS

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