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Justice AM Khanwilkar Recuses Himself from Hearing Bofors Case

Justice DY Chandrachud, said a new bench would be constituted for hearing the matter on 28 March.

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India
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Justice AM Khanwilkar of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 13 February, recused himself from hearing the politically sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors payoff case.

Justice Khanwilkar, who was part of a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, did not give any reason for opting himself out of hearing the matter.

The bench, which also comprised Justice DY Chandrachud, said a new bench would be constituted for hearing the matter on 28 March.

The apex court was to hear the petition filed by BJP leader Ajay Agrawal, challenging the 31 May 2005 decision of the Delhi High Court, quashing all charges against all the accused persons in the case.

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 2 February had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the 2005 order of the Delhi High Court, quashing all charges against the accused in the politically sensitive Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case.

The agency filed the appeal against the high court decision by which all the accused, including Europe-based industrialists Hinduja brothers, were discharged from the case.

On 17 February, Delhi's Tis Hazari court will be hearing the CBI's fresh application to further investigate the case. The CBI said certain new material has surfaced that needs further probe.

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The Bofors scandal relates to illegal kickbacks paid in a Rs 140 crore deal between the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors, and the government of India for the sale of 410 field howitzer guns, and a supply contract almost twice that amount.

It was the biggest arms deal ever in Sweden, and money marked for development projects was diverted to secure this contract at any cost.

The scale of the alleged corruption was far worse than any that Sweden and India had witnessed before and directly led to the defeat of Gandhi's ruling Indian National Congress in the 1989 general elections. The Swedish company paid Rs 64 crore in kickbacks to top Indian politicians and key defence officials.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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