The President claimed that Bofors should not be called "a scam or scandal" as it was not proved to be a scandal in any court of the country. He rather claimed that it was a "media trial' which actually established the case as a "scandal".[Bofors scandal was a media trial, charges 'yet to be proved' in court, says Pranab Mukherjee]
What is Bofors Scam:
- Bofors scandal hit Indian during 1980s and 1990s. This was related to an arm deal between India and Sweden.
- The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and many other politicians were accused of taking bribe from Bofors AB.
- The firm was accused of giving kickbacks to Indian politicians in order to win a bid to supply India's 155 mm field howitzer.
- It was a US$1.3 billion deal between the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors with the government of India.
- India bought 410 field howitzer guns.
- It was alleged that many ruled were flouted and many institutions were not consulted before signing the deal.
- flouting of rules and bypassing of institutions.
- It was the biggest arms deal ever in Sweden.
The ill-effect of Bofors scam:
- Rajiv Gandhi had faced the wrath of the Bofors scam.
- His party Congress lost the general election of the country in 1989 for the scam.
- It was alleged that the Swedish company paid Rs 640 million in kickbacks to top Indian politicians and key defence officials.
- The scam came into light for the first time during Vishwanath Pratap Singh's (VP Singh's) tenure as defence minister.
- He was forced to resign as the defence minister later as it was alleged that he had possessed information regarding Bofors scam that could damage Rajiv Gandhi's reputation.
- VP Singh resigned from Congress and the Lok Sabha.
How was Bofors scam exposed?
- Investigative journalism by a Reuters news brought the Bofors scam into light.
- Later a team led by N Ram of the newspaper The Hindu carried several other reports about the scam.
- The Hindu journalist Chitra Subramaniam secured over 350 documents that detailed the payoffs.
- Later The Indian Express and The Statesman published many of her articles as The Hindu was compelled to stop publishing stories about the Bofors scandal.
- The Hindu was under tremendous pressure of government for writing articles about Bofors scam.
Who were the main accused in the scam:
- Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessman, was one of the crucial middleman between Indian government and Bofors firm. Quattrocchi was known as one of the close aides of Rajiv Gandhi's family.
- In 1999, CBI filed first chargesheet against filed the first chargesheet against Quattrocchi, Win Chadha, Rajiv Gandhi, the defence secretary SK Bhatnagar and a number of others.
- In 2002, Delhi High Court quashed all proceedings in the Bofors scam.
- The Supreme Court, however, in 2003 reversed Delhi High Court's order.
- Quattrocchi, who was in Argentina, could not be extradited to India as there were no extradition treaty between India and Argentina.
- Quattrocchi was given some relief as Delhi High Court in 2011 provided temporary relief due to lack of evidence.
- Quattrocchi died of heart attack in Milan in 2013.
What's the current status of the Bofors case?
- The case is still going on.
- India, which blacklisted Bofors in 1987 following the allegations against the firm, lifted it in 1999.
- The Bofors gun was used extensively as the primary field artillery during the Kargil War with Pakistan.