The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hinduja plea

New Delhi, Aug. 29 (PTI): A CBI special court today dismissed the Hinduja brothers’ plea for quashing the CBI chargesheet against them in the Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case on the ground of “inordinate delay in probe and trial”.

There was no violation of the right to speedy trial of the accused in the case, special judge Prem Kumar ruled.

“I am of the considered opinion that keeping in view the nature of the offence and all other circumstances of the case, it is not in the interest of justice that the proceedings should be quashed,” special judge Prem Kumar observed in his 74-page order.

The court fixed September 2 for commencement of arguments on the charge.

The Hinduja brothers — Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand — in their application filed on July 19 sought quashing of the chargesheet against them saying the “delayed probe and delayed trial” in the case violate their Fundamental Right to Protection of Life and Personal Liberty, which includes speedy trial.

Rejecting the Hindujas’ contention that they had to suffer hardships due to “undue delay in the trial”, the special judge pointed out that the accused brothers were never arrested and subjected to incarceration during the probe or proceedings before this court and the accused were immediately granted bail on their appearance in the court.

The Supreme Court constituted the special court and the case is being taken up on a day-to-day basis. To expedite the proceedings, their trial has been separated from that of former Bofors chief Martin Ardbo and Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, it said.

Two of the three accused brothers had been allowed to go abroad by making an arrangement between themselves so that one of them remained in the country to attend the court proceedings, the court said.

The court took into account the nature of offence, number of accused and witnesses, conduct of the parties and all the attending circumstances while deciding the applications and concluded that their plea was devoid of any merit.

“Graft in high places undermines the rule of law and moral basis of the polity. For the first time, the name of the Prime Minister of the country, who is the highest political authority, came to be linked to this case and for the probity and credibility of the system, it is just and proper that this case should reach its logical end rather than being terminated at this stage when even the charges have not been framed,” the special judge observed.

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