New Delhi: The CBI has told a parliamentary panel it can reopen investigation into the Bofors arms deal case, sources told CNN-News18.
The sub-committee on Defence attached to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had sought re-opening of the case that significantly contributed to the downfall of the Rajiv Gandhi government in the 1989 elections. The six-member sub-committee is looking into non-compliance of certain aspects of the CAG report of 1986 on the deal.
The Congress has termed the demand for re-opening the case as politically motivated.
Speculation was rife earlier that the politically sensitive case would come up for substantial hearing in the Supreme Court as a media report had suggested a financial quid pro quo for the Rs 1,437 crore Howitzer gun deal in 1986.
The deal between India and the Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm Howitzer guns for Indian Army was entered on March 24, 1986. The 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 the alleged offence of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the Indian Penal Code and other sections of Prevention of Corruption Act against Martin Ardbo, the then president of AB Bofors, alleged middleman Win Chadda and Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand.
The CBI 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 to the extent of Rs 64 crore in the contracts for the supply of Bofors guns.
The first chargesheet in the case was filed on October 22, 1999 against Chadda, Quattrocchi, then defence secretary SK Bhatnagar, Ardbo and the Bofors company. A supplementary charge sheet against Hinduja brothers was filed on October 9, 2000.
A special CBI court in Delhi On March 4, 2011, had discharged Quattrocchi from the case saying the country cannot afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which has already cost Rs 250 crore.
Ottavio Quattrocchi, who fled from India on July 29-30, 1993, has never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution.
He passed away on July 13, 2013. The other accused persons who have died are Bhatnagar, Chadda and Ardbo.