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The BBC's Jill McGivering
"The Hindujas' travel plans have again been put on hold"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 15:35 GMT
Hindujas must stay in India
Prakash and Srikand Hinduja
The court wants more time to hear the brothers' arguments
By Jill McGivering in Delhi

An Indian court has ruled that the billionaire Hinduja brothers must stay in India for at least another 12 days.

The brothers are fighting a legal battle for permission to leave the country.

But a High Court judge in Delhi adjourned the hearing until 26 February to allow more time to hear the arguments.

Indian Army artillery
Allegations surround the Bofors arms deal

Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash Hinduja are facing allegations of criminal conspiracy and bribery related to an Indian arms deal.

They deny any wrong-doing.

Defence plea

Lawyers acting for the brothers argued before a High Court judge in Delhi that there was no need for the Hindujas' movements to be restricted.

They said if the case did eventually go to trial, the whole legal process could take years.

They also argued that the Hinduja brothers had come to India of their own accord to face charges and answer questions.

Prosecutors had earlier argued that, if the Hindujas left India, it might be difficult for the court to get them to come back again.

Conspiracy

The Hindujas face allegations of criminal conspiracy and bribery related to the sale of 400 field guns to India in 1986.

Investigators say the Hindujas accepted substantial bribes from the manufacturers, Bofors, for their part in the deal.

The Hindujas strongly deny this.

Two of the brothers now have British passports and the third is Swiss.

The lawyers for the Hindujas also repeated in court the brothers' claim that their decision to take British and Swiss nationality was not related to the criminal charges against them.

The issue of the Hindujas' nationality led to a political row in the UK, which resulted in the resignation of the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hindujas seek to leave India
13 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson gives passport evidence
25 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hinduja 'did not seek favours'
01 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Hindujas gave job to Tory minister
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