Home India News Former internal security czar Arun Nehru faces graft charge

Former internal security czar Arun Nehru faces graft charge

By Amiya Kumar Kushwaha, IANS,

New Delhi : He was at one time the powerful boss of India’s internal security establishment, close to prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Today Arun Nehru, who has been in political exile for nearly two decades, faces a 24-year-old Rs.25 lakh graft charge for wrongfully permitting the import of 9mm pistols for police forces.

The case dates to 1988. A special court here has rejected the closure report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and initiated fresh proceedings against Nehru, who was minister of state for internal security in Gandhi’s government.

He is the late former prime minister’s cousin but fell out with Gandhi and joined hands with the opposition.

Special CBI judge Dinesh Kumar Sharma, who last month rejected the CBI closure report, has fixed Sep 15 for further hearing.

He has asked the CBI to supply the necessary documents to the accused, including former additional secretary (Home) B.P Singhal, by Sep 6 to prepare their defence.

Singhal is the brother of Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Ashok Singhal.

Nehru is alleged to have abused his position and entered into a criminal conspiracy with two associates to cause a loss of Rs.25 lakh ($45,000) to the exchequer in a pistol deal with a firm in erstwhile Czechoslovakia.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) of 1988, Nehru, Singhal and A.K. Verma, then a director in the home ministry, flouted the norms in processing tenders related to the import of 9mm pistols. Verma is dead.

Without taking advice from the army or technical experts, the trio took the decision to replace the 0.38mm revolvers of the police forces with 9mm pistols, the FIR said.

The CBI filed its closure report in July 2007, saying there was no evidence of misconduct against Nehru. It blamed Singhal but failed to get the government’s sanction to move against him and Verma. The government’s rejection came in June 1997.

“Nehru had by order dated Feb 21, 1986 taken a policy decision to shift to 9mm pistols in place of revolvers, but neither by this order nor by any subsequent order had he given any specific written direction to purchase (a particular brand of) pistols,” the CBI said in its closure report.

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 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.

It said there was sufficient ground against Nehru and Singhal and ordered the initiation of proceedings against them for criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption charges.

(Amiya Kumar Kushwaha can be contacted at [email protected])