Apex court stumps new government with poser on Chandraswami

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Tuesday virtually stumped the new government with a poser on controversial spiritual guru Chandraswami’s suspected role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

A vacation bench of Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice R.M. Lodha asked the government if it suspected the spiritual guru of funding the assassination, why no proceeding has been initiated against him till now.

“If he has funded the assassination, then why did you not proceed against him?” the bench asked Enforcement Directorate counsel Wasim Ahmed Qadri, who was opposing a plea by Chandraswami to allow him to go abroad.

The Enforcement Directorate has probed several cases of illegal transfer of funds abroad by Chandraswami.

The ED lawyer during his arguments asserted that Chandraswami had several cases pending against him and was also suspected of having funded Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Chandraswami, opposed Qadri’s submission saying his client was never an accused in the case unlike slain Tamil Tigers chief V. Prabhakaran and others.

In response to another query, Qadri told the bench that the case against Prabhakaran might be closed in India following his killing by the Sri Lankan army this month.

Rohtagi earlier pleaded that Chandraswami be permitted to travel abroad as he had been acquitted of all the criminal cases registered against him, except at least nine cases registered against him by ED.

Rohtagi contended that even earlier while facing a probe for his alleged role in the Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case and suspicion of his role in funding the May 1991 assassination, his client had often been allowed to travel abroad.

The apex court, which at one point appeared set to pass its order on Chandraswami’s plea, adjourned the matter to Thursday after Qadri sought adjournment on its hearing to enable the ED produce more material evidence against the controversial guru.

“He has violated with impunity” all Forex Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) laws in the country, Quadri said.


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