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With Prabhakaran dead Indian SC asks if Rajiv probe still on

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate’s stress on the pending probe regarding the alleged role of self-proclaimed godman Chandraswami in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination conspiracy case and the recent news about the death of LTTE chief Prabhakaran made the Supreme Court ask on Tuesday about the status of the case relating to the nearly two-decade-old sensational political killing.

In its appeal challenging a 2008 order of the Delhi High Court permitting Chandraswami to go abroad, ED had stated that he had violated many provisions of the now defunct FERA and that he had never paid the penalties levied on him. "Those who do not honour the law cannot come before the court and claim that they have a fundamental right to visit abroad," argued ED counsel S K Dubey and Wasim Qadri before the SC on Tuesday.

Giving details of the 10 FERA cases pending against him to the court, ED in its appeal had recalled the pendency of one of the aspects of the Rajiv assassination case against Chandraswami. "It would not be out of place to mentionhere that Chandraswami’s involvement in the conspiracy of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was under investigation," ED had said.

Pursuant to the Jain Commission report submitted to the government on March 9, 1998, the Centre had on December 2, 1998, constituted the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) in CBI to further probe the conspiracy angle of the assassination, it had said.

"MDMA obtained permission from the designated TADA court at Chennai on June 17, 1999, for further investigation. One allegation in investigation is that Chandraswami had financed the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the same is under investigation," ED had said.

Probably these categoric assertions coupled with the news about LTTE chief Prabhakaran’s death during the Sri Lankan army operations made the Bench ask counsel for ED: "Is investigation into Rajiv Gandhi case closed?"

The response was a general one: "After Prabhakaran’s death, we may consider closing the investigation." This means that the MDMA could finally be wound up.

Appearing for Chandraswami, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi pressed for vacation of the apex court’s stay on the HC order permitting his client to go abroad. However, the ED counsel said the FERA violations by Chandraswami were to the tune of Rs 9.65 crore and that he had not paid a penny of the penalty imposed on him.

Before adjourning the case to Thursday as ED said it would furnish details of an additional case under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the Bench asked: "The total amount payable under the HC order is Rs 90 lakh. Do you have so much of money to pay up?"

Rohtagi replied: "I (Chandraswami) have to get it (as donation) from my disciples."

Times of India

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