The Bofors ghost Thursday rebounded with a bang with the Bharatiya Janata Party accusing the government of trying to scuttle investigations and United Progressive Alliance ally the Communist Party of India-Marxist questioning the government's stand that there was no link between the funds in the two bank accounts of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrochi in the gun deal payoffs.
A petition was also filed in the Supreme Court against the government statement before Britain's Crown Prosecution Service which was corroborated by Union Law Minister H R Bhardwaj.
The Central Bureau of investigation, meanwhile, made it clear that Quattrochi, against whom an Interpol Red Corner warrant was issued, continued to be a wanted criminal and it would make every effort to get him extradited to stand trial in India.
A day after media reported that the Additional Solicitor General B Dutta went to London to make the statement to CPS on behalf of the government, the BJP said the law minister's action has exposed the "complete lack of ethics and morality" of the UPA government. "The law minister has acted without the authority of the law. He has tried to scuttle investigations as the Bofors chargesheet against Quattrochi is still pending," BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley told reporters. He wanted to know whether this was done with the concurrence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The government's stand before the CPS could lead to defreezing of Quattrochi's British bank accounts.
The CPI-M Politbureau issued a statement asking the govenrment to explain how and why legal opinion on Quattrochi's frozen bank accounts was conveyed to the British authorities. Maintaining that these accounts were frozen at the request of CBI, it said the agency had also stated that efforts to bring Quattrochi before court would continue and that the Interpol red alert notice had not been revoked. "In such a situation, it is questionable why such legal opinion about the bank accounts has been conveyed to the British authorities," the Politburo statement said.
Another government ally the Communist Party of India said the CBI should be given a free hand to conduct the investigations and the truth should be told to the nation.
Bhardwaj told reporters that the Crown Prosecution and the British government had over the past two years been seeking evidence against Quattrochi and the Indian government conveyed the information that that CBI had found no evidence against Quattrochi. Asked whether the government would appeal against the defreezing of the accounts, the minister said "the CBI has given the details sought by the Crown Prosecution and it is upto them."