Former minister Solanki moves high court to stop trial

July 22nd, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Former external affairs minister Madhavsinh Solanki Tuesday approached the Delhi High Court seeking that it quash an order of a court to begin trial against him for alleged attempts to scuttle the probe in the Bofors pay-off scandal. Earlier this month, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court ordered commencement of trial against Solanki for his alleged attempt to scuttle the probe by handing over a “fabricated” document to his Swiss counterpart in 1992.

CBI Special Judge R.K. Yadav asked the CBI to begin trial against Solanki, a former Gujarat chief minister, under section 192 (fabricating false evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

After Solanki’s petition, Justice Kailash Gambhir issued notice to CBI to reply to it by Oct 16.

Solanki, during his official visit to Davos, Switzerland, in February 1992, had allegedly given an “unsigned” and “fabricated” memorandum to then Swiss foreign minister Rene Felber to cause that country to form an “erroneous opinion” on a letter rogatory then issued by a Delhi court for collection of evidence in the case.

The investigating agency in May this year sought Solanki’s prosecution for fabricating evidence in the ongoing judicial proceedings for “incriminating evidence”.

The agency had in 2003 filed an application under section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the court alleging that Solanki had misused his official position and made an attempt to nullify a judicial order, seeking assistance from foreign authorities in collecting evidence in the case relating to the alleged pay-off in the purchase of Bofors guns for the Indian Army.

Opposing the CBI’s plea, Solanki’s counsel said the prosecution of the accused would not serve any purpose as a considerable time had elapsed in the Bofors case, which is pending since 1990.

The CBI in reply said the delay was caused by the accused, who had approached the superior courts on various occasions.

Solanki had to resign from the P.V. Narsimha Rao cabinet in April 1992 after he admitted in parliament that he had delivered a memorandum to the then Swiss minister.

CBI, in its application, had submitted that a letter rogatory was sent by a Delhi court to “competent judicial authorities” in Switzerland in 1990, requesting collection of banking documents of alleged beneficiaries in the Bofors gun deal.

Following the letter rogatory, Swiss authorities had undertaken an extensive probe into the matter, the agency said.

However, Solanki, in his one-to-one meeting with the then Swiss minister, gave a “misleading” memorandum stating that the letter rogatory had been challenged before the Indian courts and requested them to go slow in their probe, the CBI alleged.

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