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The New Instalment Of The Bofor's Soap Opera!

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The New Instalment Of The Bofor's Soap Opera!
#10
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Plot to abet Q hatched many months back</b>
pioneer.com
Navin Upadhyay / New Delhi
Path taken could implicate many----- <b>The plot to facilitate Ottavio Quattrocchi defreeze his two London bank accounts holding the alleged Bofors kickbacks was hatched several months back. As the sequence of events show, both the CBI and the Law Ministry played a key role in rewarding fugitive Italian businessman with more than four million dollars of the Indian tax-payers' money.</b>

Legal experts feel that while the CBI may own up the sins of its master under pressure, the circumstances and facts of the case are strong enough for criminal prosecution of the people heading top posts in the UPA Government. <b>As the documents and facts come before the Supreme Court, they feel that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may find it difficult to defend his Government. </b>

Law Minister HR Bhardwaj may also face hurdles trying to save his chair even if he were to feign ignorance about the conspiratorial developments right under his nose as does the Prime Minister in most cases.

<b>To begin with, Mr Q's two London bank accounts were frozen on the basis of a Letter Rogatory (LR) issued by the trial court in India. When the CBI first requested British authorities and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to freeze Mr Q's accounts in 2003 following an Interpol tip off, the CPS made it clear that it could be done on the basis of legal directives. The CPS did agree to keep his accounts under temporary freeze, allowing time to the CBI to come up with a LR.</b>

The trial court, prima facie convinced that the two accounts held the tainted money, issued the LR, which the CBI submitted to the British prosecution, leading to a cap on Mr Q's accounts. Sources said even if the CBI wanted to tell the CPS that it did not possess evidences to link the deposits in the two bank accounts of Quattrocchi with the Bofors kickback money, they should have gone through the court that had issued the LR.

Former CBI director Joginder Singh also felt that the agency should have gone through the court. "Since the LR was issued by the court, I feel that the CBI should have taken the court's consent before giving any view on defreezing Quattrocchi's accounts. However, I don't know whether the procedure was followed or not," he told The Pioneer.

The Supreme Court observed the same on Tuesday while directing the Government to take steps to maintain status quo on Quattrocchi's accounts. "If they (Centre and CBI) are of the view that the case be dropped against him (Quattrocchi), obviously they should have gone to the criminal court (where the trial is pending)," the Court said.

However, such a move would have inevitably invited widespread publicity and brought tremendous political pressure on the Government. Hence the surreptitious act to bypass the court. The million dollar question is: was the CBI acting on its own or under pressure from the Law Ministry.

There are enough records to show that the Law Ministry under Mr Bhardwaj had a special interest in stonewalling any prosecution in the Bofors case. Law officers were responsible for CBI leaving uncontested the acquittal of Hinduja brothers by the Delhi High Court. The Law Ministry had refused to grant CBI permission to file a special leave petition against the Delhi High Court's order after detractor prosecution SK Sharma, a Law Ministry official wrote that "it will be travesty of justice" if the judgement was challenged.

Incidentally, the same ruling of the Delhi High Court, which the Law Ministry did not allow to be challenged in the Supreme Court, was used by Mr Q to get his accounts defreezed. "This is a clear cut case of conspiracy," said former law minister Ravishanker Prasad. "The pattern is very clear," he added.

But what takes the cake is the way Mr Bhardwaj himself, sounding more like an advocate for Mr Q, than the Law Minister of India, gave a clean chit to the fugitive Italian after CNN-IBN first broke the story of the move to defreeze the two accounts. "It was a temporary freeze, not a permanent freeze. Further, it was wrong to withhold someone's money in the absence of any evidence against him," Mr Bhardwaj had said. As, the nation subsequently learnt, Mr Dutta had conveyed the same views to the CPS.

However, Mr Bhardwaj should have known that CBI had filed a massive chargesheet against Mr Q. The court could not frames charges against him because he was an absconder. It was for the court to decide whether there was any link between the two bank deposits of Mr Q and the Bofors kickback, not for Mr Bhardwaj and his law officers. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
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