Has the Modi Government re-opened the Bofors Scandal for investigation?

Pune based entrepreneur and RTI activist Prafful Sarda had filed an RTI application with the PMO (Prime Minister Office), it has been transferred to Department of Personnel & Training, Department of Defense. The RTI was filed on following issues:-

1) How many people were involved in Bofors scandal?
2) How many people found guilty in Bofors scandal?
3) Which all Indian National Congress leaders were involved in Bofors scandal?
4) What action is taken against people who has been found guilty in Bofors scandal?

For nearly 30 years, the Bofors scandal has been one of the longest pending cases in the History of India. The Bofors 155 field howitzer deal was mired in controversies after members of both Indian and Swedish governments were allegedly found involved in accepting kickbacks for facilitating the deal between India and Sweden. Former PM Rajiv Gandhi, and several other members of the Indian National Congress were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB, a bank principally financed by the Wallenberg family’s Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken.

On 20th February 2017, an initial response was obtained to these questions from the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI). As per rules prescribed in the RTI act of 2005, the CBI is exempted from giving any answers to the questions raised by the RTI applicant.

Quite surprisingly, a fresh update was obtained from the Ministry of Defense on 23rd July 2017, after a period of six months. The response suggested, “Sought information is sub-judice i.e. investigation is still under process. Hence, the information sought cannot be provided, as per RTI Act 2005.”

The first question which struck our minds was, why was there such mixed responses; one from the CBI and other from the Ministry of Defense. If the information to the above questions are sub-judice, does this paramount to the fact that the Modi Government has already begun with its investigation on the Bofors Scandal? If the Modi Government did re-open the investigation, who are all the accused? What is the current status of the case? Why such information not available in the public domain? Many more questions will tumble down in the common man’s mind.

Team SatyaVijayi contacted Senior Leader and National Vice President of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who had welcomed the investigation in the Bofors scandal. He suggested that the Modi Government’s top priority is to weed out corruption in the existing system and he was confidant that this Government will bring this investigation to its logical end.

Subramanian Swamy, Senior BJP Leader and Rajya Sabha Member made the following observation on the re-opening of Bofors scandal. “This is not surprising that the Government agencies have contradictory approach to this issue. Need to clean up the Congress moles on the administration and have quick/transparent approach to the investigation.”

He went on further to add, “The UPA Government in the ten years did everything possible to derail the Bofors investigation, the main culprits were the family of Sonia Gandhi. Prior to 2004, inside deals were struck between Brijesh Mishra and Sonia Gandhi.”

Amit Malviya, National IT Cell head of BJP, when contacted by the team refused to comment on the above issue. National Spokesperson of Indian National Congress, Sanjay Jha, was unable to provide any comment on this issue at the current moment. Although he directed us to talk to anyone from the Congress’s office for more information, none of the leaders were available for any comments.

RTI activist Prafful Sarda said, “Looking at the revert received from CBI – Economic Offences is quite shocking. On one side UPA Leaders and Indian National Congress Party Vice – President Rahul Gandhi are trying to take credit for introducing RTI but the fact is they have exempted many divisions to revert on concern issues. Bofors Scam is not just a national but global shame and that has affected defense budget for long duration.”

“Under UPA regime, many scams has happened and most of their leaders are facing an inquiry and some of them have been to jail as well. All the scam related inquiries are investigated by CBI or other concerned department but common-man does not seem to get update about such cases. Hope the Modi government will take necessary steps to create more transparency about such issues,” he added further.