Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud, JJ listed the appeal by BJP leader Ajay Kumar Agarwal, challenging the 2005 Delhi High Court order quashing charges against Europe-based industrialists Hinduja brothers in the politically-sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case, for hearing in the week commencing from October 30 this year.
Here is the timeline of the events:
- March, 1986: India and the Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors enter into Rs 1,437 crore deal for the supply of 400 155mm Howitzer guns for the Indian Army.
- April, 1987: Swedish Radio claims that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.
- January, 1990: CBI registers case for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the 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.
- October, 1990: First charge-sheet is filed against Win Chadda, Italain businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, then Defence Secretary SK Bhatnagar, Ardbo, the Bofors company and Hinduja brothers
- July, 1993: Ottavio Quattrocchi flees India and has never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution.
- May, 2005: Justice R S Sodhi of the Delhi High Court, since retired, quashes all charges against the three Hinduja brothers, Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand, and the Bofors company and castigates the CBI for its handling of the case saying it had cost the exchequer about Rs 250 crore.
- October, 2005: Ajay Agarwal files appeal before the Supreme Court after the CBI failes to approach the top court with the appeal within the 90-day deadline following the High Court verdict.
- March, 2011: Special CBI Court discharges Ottavio Quattrocchi from the case saying the country cannot afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which has already cost Rs 250 crore.
- 4 accused, namely, Ottavio Quattrocchi, SK Bhatnagar, Martin Ardbo and Win Chadda, have died pending trial.
In the matter that is pending before the Supreme Court since last 12 years, the Court had heard the matter on 01.12. 2016 after a gap of almost six years since 12.08.2010. The matter was last listed on 28.02.2017 when it was adjourned. The judge bench has now agreed to hear the 12 year old plea from the Month of October.