Thursday, 26 April 2012
RE. BOFORS CASE
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (SHRI ARUN JAITLEY): Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, I wish to raise an important issue which is of concern not only to the hon. Members of this House, but also to the entire country. The larger issue is -- I can assure my friends in the Uncorrected/Not for Publication Government that I have no intention of referring to individuals – what is the capacity of our Indian State and all agencies of the State in pursuit of truth to find out where we have gone wrong? Today, we see in our neighbouring country on the western border, for somewhat similar facts, you almost had earthshaking consequences because the Government of the day did not take certain steps which would bring probity into public life. In India, we have spent 25 years trying to unearth the truth. It is a serious reflection on the health of our entire investigative process, its lack of independence that despite having got conclusive proof, we are unable to nail where the culprits are. I am more concerned really with the health of our investigative agencies than any other political factor. Obviously, we are all concerned with defence preparedness. It is of utmost importance to us that there is transparency in the procurement process. The Government, at some stage, had taken a decision, perhaps, rightly that we must eliminate middlemen so that collateral considerations don't come in. The Government, which took this decision, needs to be complimented for that. Yet, we had, in the mid-90s during a particular purchase, somebody intervening again as middleman. Even when the disclosures were made in 1987, from 1987 till 1989, not even an FIR was registered. In 1990, some steps were taken. Then you have repeated efforts to make sure that this whole process is stalled. I was personally aghast when I came across a question even being raised before our judicial institutions: the CBI is not a lawfully constituted body which can investigate the case. Something as absurd was this and therefore efforts were made to stall this. Fortunately we had interventions of the highest judiciary and the matter proceeded.
SHRI ARUN JAITLEY (contd.): Thereafter, you have, by that process commencing in 1990, India receiving some documents, and in 1999, a comprehensive charge sheet is filed. Sir, when the purchases were taking place, one company which had entered the whole process in October, 1985, was a company called the A.E. Services. Its contract with the Swedish supplier said, “We shall obtain for you the Indian order on or before 31st March, 1986, and only then, we are entitled to kickbacks.” Obviously, this gentleman was very powerful; he could swing the contract. The contract is finally executed on 24th of March, 1986. Who this gentleman was, and the pursuit of truth went on. In 1994, the Swiss Authorities finally informed the Government of India who the recipients were. And, they found that behind this company, the recipient was a gentleman whose name begins with ‘Q’. Within three days, he is allowed to escape the country. This is how the due process is defeated. Why was he so powerful that he could swing the contract? The monies are traced; the account is traced. You don’t need any further conclusive evidence. What did you do when the other Governments were in power? In 1999, a conclusive charge sheet, with entire evidence, is put in. When the United Front Government was in power, the Director, CBI, brought voluminous documents. The Government, in 1999, takes efforts in Malaysia, and the efforts to deport him didn’t succeed. The Government then, after a Friday verdict, moves the Supreme Court in Malaysia on Monday only to be told that he had gone from Malaysia to Argentina. Finally, when the present Government came to power in 2004, he is found out in Argentina. The Ambassador, Mr. Rath, is told, “We don’t want to pursue action against him because the action will be costly.” There were a series of judicial verdicts which scuttled the whole probe. Each one is appealed against and overturned. In 2004, one probe says, “No case is made out”. It is not even appealed against. And we give a whole burial to the case. This is now a sad chapter in history. Nothing more can be done. I do not know if fraud unravels everything, this will be a textbook illustration of a fraud as to how to kill the pursuit to get the truth. And, every time, some disclosure or some interview or some comment comes, it only comes in relation to the facts which are already in; most of them are in public domain. And the facts are very simple. Somebody swung the contract; somebody got the kickbacks. The details of the Swiss Accounts, which are very impossible to get, were obtained. Repeated efforts to cover up were there. And, this man, indeed, was very powerful, and then, he is allowed to escape. He jumps from one jurisdiction to another. And the Indian State looks helpless. You know the truth. You got at it. And you are not able to capture the man. Sir, as I said, initially, my intention is not to embarrass any Government or any party or any individual. But, is it not a case that we introspect that how easy it has become for people who indulge in this kind of activities to get away? You need friendly Governments. You need investigative agencies which have become utterly non-professional. The pace of investigation varies with the political colour of the Government in power. It slows down with the colour of the Government in power. And we prided ourselves when we looked at our Western neighbour, “Look, what a great democracy we are, the largest in the world, and where are you!” And, today is the date, and there can’t be a better day than this to introspect what they are doing in pursuit of a similar truth and how helpless we are looking at this. My intention, Sir, was only to draw the attention of the House to this hard reality.