Central Bureau of Investigation Special Judge Dinesh Dayal on Monday acquitted 'godman' Chandraswami in the St Kitts forgery case.
"Acquitted for lack of evidence," the judge said.
As he heard the judgment, Chandraswami smiled and said, "Satyamev Jayate."
"I am happy that the whole thing is over. But more than being happy for myself, I am happy for [former prime minister] Rajiv Gandhi that his name has been finally cleared," he said.
Former prime minister Narasimha Rao, former Union minister K K Tewari, Chandraswami and his associate Kailash Nath Aggarwal alias Mamaji were accused of forging documents against Ajeya Singh, son of former prime minister V P Singh, alleging that he opened a bank account in First Trust Corporation Bank in St Kitts and deposited $21 million.
"This was a politically motivated case and had been filed with a view to harass my client. We had to wait for seven long years but in the end our stand has been vindicated, as is evident from the judgment of the special judge. The prosecution produced 41 witnesses during the trail but failed to prove the charges," said S K Chauriha, Chandraswami's advocate.
CBI counsel N K Sharma refused to say anything on the matter.
The Chronology of the Case:
August 20, 1989: A story is published in the Kuwait-based Arab Times alleging that Janata Dal leader Vishwanath Pratap Singh was the main beneficiary of a secret bank account with deposits amounting to $21 million in the Caribbean island of St Kitts.
August 22, 1989: The Indian media picks up the story.
September 26, 1989: A P Nandey, deputy director, Enforcement Directorate, is appointed to probe the charges.
October 9, 1989: Nanday submits his report to the ED after visiting the US and St Kitts.
October 11, 1989: Minister of state for finance Eduardo Faleiro tables the report in the Rajya Sabha. Two days later, it is presented before the Lok Sabha.
November 26, 1989: The general election is held.
December 2, 1989: V P Singh becomes prime minister after Rajiv Gandhi demits office following his party's poll debacle.
May 25, 1990: The Central Bureau of Investigation registers a first information report against ED director K L Verma, Nandey, controversial self-styled godman Chandraswami, his aide K N Agarwal alias Mamaji, arms dealer Adnan Kashoggi's son-in-law Larry J Kolb and First Trust Corporation Ltd, St Kitts, managing director George McLean.
November 10, 1990: The V P Singh government falls.
March 1991: CBI joint director N K Singh investigating the case transferred. He wanted to interrogate Chandraswami.
June 21, 1991: P V Narasimha Rao becomes prime minister.
November 1995: Nandey dies.
Till January 1996: No progress in the CBI probe.
February 10, 1996: People's Union of Civil Liberties moves the Supreme Court seeking disclosure of the CBI's findings.
February 13, 1996: The SC orders combining of charges against Chandraswami in various petitions and allegations of Narasimha Rao's involvement.
March 25, 1996: The CBI files affidavit showing only limited role of Rao in the case.
May 16, 1996: Rao demits office.
July 26, 1996: The SC tells the CBI not to close the probe against Rao without its permission.
July 1996: The CBI recommends Rao's prosecution.
August 1996: The CBI seeks opinion from the then attorney general Ashok Desai.
September 26, 1996: CBI charge-sheets Rao, Chandraswami, Mamaji and former external affairs minister K K Tewari for criminal conspiracy to tarnish V P Singh's reputation.
October 4, 1996: Chief metropolitan magistrate Prem Kumar issues a non-bailable warrant against Rao. The same evening, at a special sitting, the Delhi high court grants anticipatory bail to Rao.
October 9, 1996: The CBI arrests Rao at his residence in New Delhi, but releases him on bail.
November 4, 1996: The CMM rejects Rao's bail plea and asks him to surrender on November 14. Rao moves the Delhi HC.
November 8, 1996: Rao gets interim bail from the Delhi HC.
December 3, 1996: The HC issues a notice to the CBI on a PUCL plea for inclusion of former Congress leaders Captain Satish Sharma and R K Dhawan as accused after Nandey and H C Nahata name them in their confessional statements.
December 5, 1996: The Delhi HC quashes proceedings against Verma for want of sanction to prosecute him.
April 10, 1997: The HC rejects the PUCL plea to prosecute Capt Sharma and Dhawan.
May 21, 1997: Rao's counsel R K Anand tells the trial court that Rao ordered enquiry into the reported St Kitts account on Rajiv Gandhi's instructions.
June 4, 1997: Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke discharges Rao and Tewari for want of evidence against them and orders framing of charges against Chandraswami and Mamaji.
July 3, 1997: A special court formally frames charges against Chandraswami and Mamaji of criminal conspiracy, fabricating false evidence, forgery for the purpose of harming reputation and using as genuine a forged document. The CBI fails to secure the presence of Larry J Kolb, while McLean is dead.
July 28, 1997: The trial commences.
December 23, 1999: The HC upholds the trial court's decision to discharge Rao and Tewari.
December 6, 2000: The SC rejects CBI SLP against Rao's discharge.
May 9, 2001: V P Singh deposes.
January 30, 2004: Investigating Officer Keshav Mishra, an additional superintendent of police with the CBI, deposes.
April 4, 2004: Recording of prosecution evidence is closed.
August 9, 2004: Chandraswami tells the CBI court that the V P Singh government falsely implicated him in the case due to his proximity with Rao and Rajiv Gandhi.
August 31, 2004: Mamaji dies of prostrate cancer.
September 30, 2004: Special Judge Dinesh Dayal fixes October 25 for pronouncing verdict after final arguments.
October 25, 2004: Chandraswami is acquitted.