CBI gives clean chit to Arun Nehru in gun purchase scam

January 8th, 2009 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has given a clean chit to former central minister Arun Nehru, who had been charged with misusing his official position in a Rs.2.2 million deal for purchase of 9mm pistols from a Czech firm over 20 years ago.Special Judge Vinod Goel earlier this week took cognizance of the closure report filed by the CBI 18 months ago and began hearing arguments.

The CBI, in the First Information Report lodged in 1988, accused Nehru and two bureaucrats, B.P. Singhal and A.K. Verma, of flouting official norms in the purchase of 55,000 CZ-75 9mm pistols, causing wrongful gain to the Czech firm of Rs.2.2 million and inflicting a loss of Rs.2.5 million to the Indian government.

The case refers to 1985-86 when Singhal, then additional secretary in the home ministry, and Verma, another officer in the same ministry, allegedly conspired with Nehru, then minister of state (Internal Security) for home affairs, to execute the deal.

The prosecution alleged that Nehru ignored the guidelines for conducting the evaluation of 9mm pistols.

“The then minister did not consult the army personnel and technical experts before the deal was executed. The ministry had also approved the sample, which was found to have a wide array of defects,” it alleged.

The CBI in its investigation revealed that a policy decision to replace .38 revolvers with 9mm was taken on Feb 21, 1986, following which global tenders were invited.

The deal was finally clinched with Czech firm Merkuria Foreign Trade Corp for purchase of the pistols.

But Nehru, during examination, refused to have given any specific written direction to purchase the pistol. He also denied taking any decision regarding the constitution of a new evaluation committee.

The CBI told the court that the investigations could not reveal any written instruction by Nehru nor the constitution of any fresh evaluation committee.

“No prima facie evidence has come (up) that the accused had committed any misconduct or had misused his office with regard to the deal,” the CBI sid.

It also submitted that Nehru gave approval for the purchase on the recommendation of then home secretary C.G. Somiah.

Subsequently, the CBI filed the closure report on June 13, 2007. The CBI, however, found Singhal and Verma guilty of cheating and criminal conspiracy and sought their prosecution.

But the government refused to accord sanction for the prosecution of the two. The court has now put up the matter for Feb 10.

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