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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 12:04 GMT
Hindujas seek to leave India
Hindujas in court
The Hindujas' lawyers are trying to lift the travel ban
By Emma Simpson in Delhi

The Asian billionaire Hinduja brothers, at the centre of an investigation into one of India's most high profile corruption scandals, have appeared at a Delhi court.

Srichand Hinduja and two of his brothers, Gopichand and Prakash, returned voluntarily to India nearly two weeks ago.

They were to answer questions about their alleged involvement in a major arms deal with the Indian government in 1986, but a court then ordered the brothers to remain in India.

On Tuesday their lawyers applied to the court for permission to leave the country but the judge is not expected to make a decision until Thursday.

Interrogated

After more than a week of questioning by India's highest investigating authority, the Hinduja brothers had been hoping they would finally be able to leave the country and attend to their global business empire.

Srichand Hinduja
Srichand Hinduja: "Nothing against us"
At a packed court hearing prosecutors told the judge that they had pursued the three men for many years and if they were allowed to go it might be difficult to get them back.

They also described the Hindujas as evasive.

The brothers argued that they had come to India voluntarily and that they should be granted permission to leave.

The businessmen are alleged to have received 6m in illegal payments from a Swedish company, Bofors.

The case dates back to the 1980s when the firm negotiated an 800m contract to supply guns to the Indian government.

They have always denied the allegations.

'Unfair'

Outside the court, Srichand Hinduja described the prosecution's version of events as unfair.

They had answered all the questions he said.

"We've done our best for 10 days and there's nothing against us," he said.

The brothers are expected to find out on Thursday whether they can travel abroad while the investigations here continue.

They have not been charged or arrested and it could take months before there is a decision on whether there is any evidence for the brothers to stand trial.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hinduja 'did not seek favours'
25 Jan 01 | South Asia
Resignation stirs Indian press
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