Coffin scam: Court finds no evidence against three ex-armymen

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 11, 2013 14:50 hrs

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) A Delhi court Wednesday discharged three former army officers in the 2002 "coffin scam" related to the Kargil war, observing that no prima facie evidence was found against them.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge Poonam Bamba discharged then military attache in the Indian embassy in the US, Maj. Gen. (retd) Arun Roye, Col. (retd) S.K. Malik and Col. (retd) F.B. Singh.

The charge-sheet in the coffin scam was filed by the CBI in August 2009 related to purchase of "overpriced and substandard" aluminium caskets and body bags for Indian soldiers who died in the 1999 Kargil war.

The agency charge-sheeted the three officials along with US national Victor Baiza, the vendor who supplied the caskets and body bags to the Indian Army.

Baiza did not appear before the court.

The CBI charge-sheet did not name then defence minister George Fernandes, who had also come under the scanner following allegations that poor quality aluminium caskets were bought at exorbitant rates.

The CBI had registered the case in the "coffin scam" in 2006.

The scam came to notice in 2002, leading to criticism of the then Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

The CBI had alleged that the accused people along with other unknown government officials and private people entered into a criminal conspiracy by abusing their official positions, and "cheated and defrauded" the public exchequer by way of purchase of substandard aluminium caskets and body bags from an unapproved US-based vendor at exorbitant rates.

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