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Sack the law minister: Fernandes to PM

January 13, 2006 17:05 IST
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Janata Dal (United) President George Fernandes on Friday charged the United Progressive Alliance government with 'disgracing itself by blatantly interfering in processes of investigation and justice'. He was referring to the Bofors case and demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to dismiss Law Minister H R Bhardwaj and Additional Solicitor General B Dutta.

Addressing a press conference, Fernandes alleged that the government, under UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, was in a hurry to help defreeze accounts of Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors scam and for this, it misused the law officers of the government and mislead the authorities in Britain.

He said he wanted to know whether Dr Singh was aware that his law minister was undermining the proceedings of courts and the autonomy of Central Bureau of Investigation and also whether Dr Singh himself was party to 'this misuse of his government functionaries and bodies'.

Fernandes said, "The very least Dr Singh can now do to retrieve this black blot is to dismiss his law minister and  Dutta."

He pointed out that the CBI has documented evidence of direct payments into Quattrocchi's accounts in connection with the Howitzer deal and documented instructions by him to disburse money into other accounts across the world.

Quattrocchi is a wanted criminal, against whom a case still exists in Indian courts, a red corner notice against him by Interpol is still pending, extradition proceedings are going on and the CBI has not yet withdrawn charges against him, Fernandes said.

Refuting the government's explanation that there was no case against Quattrocchi, the JD(U) leader said the High Court has not given any relief to Quattrocchi and only the Hinduja brothers' names were removed in view of non-production of documents.

"Quattrocchi's story has not ended and it is shocking that the UPA government is still using all its might to illegally bury the criminal deeds of a foreign citizen and personal friend of Sonia Gandhi," Fernandes said.

Not satisfied with the Congress' denial that the step was taken in view of the request from a foreign government, he said, under the law, the law officer of the government had no business to reply, as it was the CBI's role. Why was the government in a hurry to get accounts of a wanted criminal defrozen, he added.

"Narsimha Rao as prime minister had let Quattrocchi flee India and now Sonia Gandhi has to express her gratitude to him for his assistance in the Bofors scam by misusing the law officers of the government and misleading the authorities to defreeze his accounts there. It is clear that as a close family friend of the Gandhis, Quattrocchi has all Congress governments at his beck and call," he added.

Complete coverage: Bofors, the smoking gun

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