x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Arun Nehru to face fresh graft charge over import of pistols

Mr Nehru is alleged to have abused his position as minister of state for international security in Rajiv Gandhi's administration, and entered into a criminal conspiracy in deal for 9mm pistols that cost the government Rs.25 lakh (Dh165,380).

NEW DELHI // He was once the powerful boss of India's internal security establishment, close to his cousin, the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Today Arun Nehru faces a graft charge dating back to 1988 involving the import of defective pistols from Czechoslovakia.

Mr Nehru, 68, is alleged to have abused his position as minister of state for international security in Mr. Gandhi's administration, and entered into a criminal conspiracy with two associates, including then home secretary BP Singhai in a deal for 9mm pistols that cost the government Rs.25 lakh (Dh165,380).

The prosecution alleged that Mr Nehru ignored the guidelines for conducting the evaluation of the pistols that were to be used to by police in the replacement of revolvers.

"The then minister did not consult the army personnel and technical experts before the deal was executed. The ministry had also approved the sample, which was found to have a wide array of defects," the prosecution said.

A special court has rejected the 1997 closure report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which said nothing incriminating could be found against Mr Nehru during the protracted probe, and initiated fresh proceedings against Mr Nehru. It blamed Mr Singhal but failed to get the government's sanction to move against him and AK Verma then a director of the home ministry.

Special CBI judge Dinesh Kumar Sharma has set September 15 for the next hearing.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) of 1988, Mr Nehru, Singhal and AK Verma, flouted the norms in processing import of 9mm pistols. Verma has since died. He is the late prime minister's cousin but fell out with Gandhi and joined hands with the opposition.

The court rejected this, observing that documents reflected that the accused were involved in a conspiracy.

"On the basis of material available in the closure report, the court finds sufficient ground to proceed against the accused," the court said.

It found Mr Nehru was a party to the decision and the "conspiracy was hatched under his direction".

"It has also to be kept in mind that the department functions at the direction of the minister and it may not be possible for his subordinates to raise questions on his functioning," the court observed.