Ram Jethmalani exhorts GOI help in Bhojwani trial

“Indian Government should take a stand when Indian citizens are prosecuted unfairly by Tax Havens like Jersey”

Online PR News – 15-February-2010 – – Delhi, India, Feb 10, 2010: Ram Jethmalani, legal luminary stated today that the Indian Government should take a strong stand in the international trial proceedings of Indian businessman Raj Bhojwani in Jersey. Mr. Jethmalani stated that Raj Bhojwani should be given the right to choose his own lawyers in Jersey to ensure that he receives a fair trial from the Jersey court. He also exhorted the GOI to send a special task force to Jersey to oversee the proceedings of the trial as time was running out.
Mr. Bhojwani is currently undergoing a trial on the island of Jersey at the hands of the Government of Jersey, for alleged offences committed in Nigeria under the proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999. However, Mr. Bhojwani has never been charged with or convicted of any such offence in Nigeria.
Last week, Raj Bhojwani’s legal counsel had sent an appeal to the PMO’s office in Delhi to protect him from being unlawfully prosecuted by Jersey, Channel Islands. This week, even Nigeria stepped in and called for a judicial review of the case with Jersey, but the Indian Government has not yet responded.

Mr. Ram Jethmalani, stated ,“ The right of every Indian citizen should be protected by its Government and in this case, I would call upon the GOI to help oversee the trial proceedings in Jersey of Mr. Raj Bhojwani.”

For the last three years, Jersey Island, UK has denied him freedom to move out of the island by pursuing a trial which violates the following:

1. International Civil & Political Rights
“Article 15 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights state and article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) state that ‘no one shall be held guilty for any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence at the time when it was committed”
The Human Rights ECHR article 7 law was adopted in Jersey in Jan
2007. But it is not being implemented in this case. Why?

2. Unlawful means of collecting evidence against Mr. Bhojwani from Nigeria
The Government of Jersey prosecution team is relying on evidence obtained on Nigerian soil with the assistance of Nigerian authorities which has been obtained in complete contravention of the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other Nigeria laws. In fact, in a judgement dated 15th Oct 2009, the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abuja ruled that all evidence obtained and produced by Commissioner Gana and the Special Investigation Panel (“S.I.P.”) had been unlawfully obtained and the transmission to Jersey was unconstitutional.
Infact, the Attorney General of Nigeria wrote to the Attorney general of Jersey requesting them as per international practices – Mr. Bhojwani’s trial should be held in Nigeria. But the Attorney General turned it down.

Note to The Editors on Mr. Raj Bhojwani:
Mr. Bhojwani is an Indian citizen born in Calcutta on 17th. May, 1957. He is an NRI, having been settled in Nigeria and UK since 1965.
As part of his business activities, he has been patriotically promoting India and Indian products in West Africa – starting with Pharmaceuticals in 1985 wherein most raw materials and formulations were sourced from India, he diversified into motor vehicles (1991) and acquired the distributorships for Maruti-Suzuki, Tata and Bajaj. He also worked closely with the Indian High Commission and Govt. of India to promote India and Indian products and services to improve commercial relations between Nigeria and India and also to enhance the co-operation between various arms of both governments.
He was also instrumental in the breakthrough in 1992 of getting Indian vehicles (Maruti Gypsies 4WD) approved for the Nigeria Police and Army. This led to Mr. Bhojwani taking various delegations of senior Nigerian army and police officers to India to visit the Tata and Maruti plants and to have useful courtesy meetings with their counterparts in India.
In 1996, Mr. Bhojwani managed to get the single largest defence order from any African country for 1,500 Tata trucks for the Nigerian Armed Forces. This was followed by another order the following year for 450 Tata trucks for the National Election Commission of Nigeria (NECON) for the 1997 local and state govt.elections of Nigeria. These are proud achievements for India, which have not been matched till date and are still carried on the Indian High Commission website.
Mr. Bhojwani pioneered the introduction of Bajaj 3-wheeler autorickshaws in Nigeria in 1998 for public transportation and today they are a very well accepted mode of public transport with over 30,000 units on the roads.
In 1998 and 1999, he set up 2 joint ventures with the Lagos State Govt. for operating Tata Buses and Bajaj 3-wheelers for intra city commuter mass transit and the first ever Tata Bus assembly plant in Africa, in Lagos. Most of these achievements and project launchings were supported and attended by the Indian High Commissioner and the Defence Advisor.
In 2003, Mr. Bhojwani was invited to the special West Africa – India Economic Partnership conclave in Lagos, Nigeria which was organised by the Ministry of External Affairs under the presence of Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudi (then Minister of State for External Affairs) to bring together various prominent local Indian businessmen + Heads of all Indian Diplomatic Missions in W. Africa + representatives of certain regional multilateral organisations to increase the awareness and promote Indian goods, services and technology.
Apart from the above commercial and geo-political efforts of Mr. Bhojwani, he also has been supporting charitable and philanthropic activities to help the underprivileged and deserving in Africa and also simultaneously promote a better image of the Indian businessman in Africa, as one who is caring and considerate. In 1990 he donated various scholarships to the University of Lagos under the auspices of the India Cultural Association (I.C.A.) of Lagos. He has also quietly supported the Tulsi Chanrai Foundation since 1999 in it’s various projects in primary health care, water provision and eye care.
He started his own Partnership to Serve Foundation in 2004 and embarked on Project “Vision Rainbow” where by the eye sight of every school going child in Lagos was to be screened and if found defective then free eye glasses were provided. By 2007, over 200,000 children were screened out of a total of 1.4 million. The project was suspended as a result of Mr. Bhojwani’s arrest.
In India too, Mr. Bhojwani’s family has supported various philanthropic projects through his spiritual Master – Dada J. P. Vaswani including a T.B. cure scheme in Mumbai since 1980, a free Open Heart Surgery scheme in Mumbai since 2000, a free clinic at Khandala since 1998, a modern Heart Hospital in Pune in collaboration with Escorts Heart Hospital in Delhi in 2002, but which had to be relinquished as a result of his funds being blocked in Jersey.
Mr. Bhojwani is entitled to both a UK passport and a Nigerian passport, but proudly retains his Indian citizenship.