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  1. #1
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    Why did Law Minister visit London in '05?


    As reported by Rajeev Deshpande & Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN on timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 9 February 2008:
    Why did Law Minister visit London in '05?-India-The Times of India

    Why did Law Minister visit London in '05?

    NEW DELHI: A stop over in London in October 2005 could well become a headache for Law Minister H R Bharadwaj.

    It is undisputable that he was returning to India from Ghana after attending the Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting (October 17-20).

    But, what did he do in London as India's Law Minister is shrouded in mystery.

    An application under the Right to Information Act has brought this out with completely different versions of official business the minister carried out in London during his three-day stop over.

    On November 5, 2007, the government told RTI applicant Dev Ashish Bhattacharya that Bharadwaj took an overview of the pending arbitrational proceedings involving government of India in London.

    "On his return journey, the minister also visited London to have discussions with counsels/solicitors engaged by the government of India to represent/defend Union of India in various arbitration cases pending before Arbitrators in London," said the government.

    Bhattacharya was curious to elicit more information and appealed against the scanty information relating to the minister's visit to London. He appealed seeking more information not being satisfied with the first dose.

    The second version of the purpose behind the London visit, supplied to Bhattacharya on January 2 this year, read: "On his return journey from Ghana, the Minister of Law and Justice along with Law Secretary visited UK (London) during October 22-24, 2005 to discuss the issues relating to legal profession of both countries on an invitation from the chairman of the Bar Council of England."

    The conflicting versions are intriguing enough. But what is even more curious is that the minister's London visit is tantalisingly close to the decision of UK authorities to de-freeze the accounts of Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi in January 2006.

    That followed a visit by law officer Bhagwan Datta who told the Crown Prosecution Service that there was no case against Quattrocchi.

    The differing versions have been brought to the notice of the appellate RTI authority in the Department of Legal Affairs, which has passed an order asking concerned officials to recheck/reconcile the information given about the purpose of Bharadwaj's London visit in October 2005.

    The authorities have to do quite a job to reconcile the two versions of purposes for which the law minister visited London.





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  2. #2
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    Re: Why did Law Minister visit London in '05?


    As reported by Sumon K Chakrabarti on ibnlive.com on 11 March 2008:
    Bofors returns, Law Minister in the line of fire again

    Bofors returns, Law Minister in the line of fire again

    New Delhi: It was a story that shook the Indian establishment two years ago.

    In January 2006, CNN-IBN reported that Additional Solicitor General of India, B Dutta, had allegedly told British authorities to de-freeze two London bank accounts of Bofors kingpin Ottavio Quattrocchi.

    These accounts allegedly contained money received as kickback from the deal and were frozen on request from CBI.

    Also under focus was the role of the Law and Justice Minister Hansraj Bharadwaj.

    But did Bharadwaj make the de-freezing request? At the time, the Law Minister had denied any involvement.

    But now, the controversy over his role during a late 2005 visit to London could resurface.

    In November 2007, the Law Ministry said that while returning from the Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting in Ghana, Bharadwaj "visited London to have discussions with counsels and solicitors engaged by the Government of India to represent or defend Union of India in various cases pending in London."

    That was in reply to RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya's queries on the foreign tours of ministers.

    But three months later, in a reply filed to an RTI query on specifics of the 2005 London visit from CNN-IBN, the ministry has done a complete U-turn.
    Bharadwaj never visited London in 2005, says the reply because "he had to advance his return to India."

    This despite giving exact details on the money spent in Britain on tour. "If there is no purpose of hiding anything, why have three versions of the same story,” says Bhattacharya. ,” he says.

    A key member of Manmohan Singh cabinet and close to the top Congress leadership, Bharadwaj refused to comment despite repeated requests. But the big question is why are Bharadwaj and the Law Ministry sending contrary signals on his visit to London? It was a visit that took place at around the same time that the process to de-freeze the Quattrocchi account was initiated.

    “Mr Bharadwaj doesn’t seem consistent in his statements,” says BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain.

    While the CBI’s case against Quattrocchi had floundered, the role of the Law Minister in the Bofors case will remain a source of contentious political debate.

  3. #3
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    Re: Why did Law Minister visit London in '05?


    As reported by Sumon K Chakrabarti on ibnlive.com on 28 April 2008
    Law Minister's 'missing passport' revives Bofors ghost

    Law Minister's 'missing passport' revives Bofors ghost


    New Delhi: In January 2006, CNN-IBN reported that additional solicitor general of India B Dutta had told British authorities to defreeze two London bank accounts of Ottavio Quattrochi, the main accused in the Bofors scandal.

    These bank accounts allegedly contained money received as kickbacks from the multi-crore deal.

    The accounts were frozen on request from CBI.

    Last month, through an RTI application, CNN-IBN found Indias Law and Justice Minister Hansraj Bharadwaj may have made the defreezing request himself.

    But in a reply to the RTI, the Law Ministry says that passport of their Minister is not available with them.

    "It clearly proves that Bharadwaj's ministry is trying to hide something controversial, says RTI activist, Dev Ashish Bhattacharya.

    In November 2007, the Law Ministry said that while returning from the Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting in Ghana, Bharadwaj "visited London to have discussions with counsels and solicitors engaged by the Government of India to represent or defend Union of India in various cases pending in London."

    But three months later, in a reply filed to an RTI query on specifics of the 2005 London visit from CNN-IBN, the Ministry did a U-turn.

    Bharadwaj never visited London in 2005, said the reply, because "he had to pre-pone his return to India."

    This despite giving exact details on the money spent in Britain on tour making the suspicions of a cover-up real.
    Twitter: @cjkarira



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