Bofors: CBI seeks withdrawal of case against `Q`

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 21:11

New Delhi: Pressing for closure of Bofors
pay-offs case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi,
the CBI on Tuesday contended before a Delhi Court there was
"nothing new" in the ITAT order that would obstruct the
withdrawal of the over two-decade-old criminal proceedings.

"I am not disputing what the tribunal has said. That
is the case of prosecutor (CBI) also and it is mentioned in
the chargesheet. There is nothing new," Additional Solicitor
General P P Malhotra told Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod
Yadav.
The court, which was to pass its order on the
politically sensitive case, started hearing arguments again
after Supreme Court lawyer Ajay Agarwal submitted that the
matter be looked into afresh in the light of the Income Tax
Appellate Tribunal`s order yesterday that kickbacks of Rs 41
crore were paid to late Win Chaddha and Quattrocchi in the
Howitzer gun deal.

The court, which initially expressed reservation on
taking into account ITAT`s order saying that it was passed by
different forum and for different reason, agreed to hear the
contentions of the CBI again as well as that of Agarwal who is
opposing the investigating agency`s application.

Initiating the arguments, Malhotra, on behalf of the
CBI, said that it has not got any fresh instruction from the
government pertaining to the withdrawal of case against
70-year-old Quattrocchi in light of the tribunal`s order.

He further said that the court should decide the CBI`s
plea for withdrawing the case without going into its merits
and that it should only consider whether the application has
been filed "bonafide, in good faith and in public interest".

"There is no need for the court to go into the merits
of the case. The court should look only whether there is a
bonafide intention on the part of CBI or not. Merits has no
relevance in this case," he said.

The ITAT order, which had said that kickbacks were
paid to late Chaddha and Quattrocchi in the Howitzer gun deal,
was placed before the court.

Countering CBI`s arguments, Agarwal submitted that
Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily had yesterday made a
statement that the government will examine the issue afresh in
the light of ITAT order.

At this, the CMM asked the ASG about the government`s
stand."I would like to know your comments on Law Minister`s
statement," CMM Yadav said.
Malhotra, however, said that he was not aware of any
such statement and the application for withdrawal of the
proceedings against Quattrocchi was filed after examining all
aspects of the case.

The court, which heard the case for over three hours,
adjourned till January 6 the proceedings when Agarwal
expressed his inability to continue in view of his mother`s
sudden illness.

During the arguments, Agarwal alleged that the CBI is
trying to protect Quattrocchi as he has always been "very
close" to the family of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

"There is no bonafide, public interest and good faith
behind the CBI`s decision to withdraw the case against
Quattrocchi," he said.

The CBI had registered a criminal case on January 20,
1990 to probe who were the beneficiaries of the pay-offs in
the 1986 Bofors gun deal.

After completing its probe, the agency filed two
chargsheets in the case first on October 22, 1999 and the
second one on October 9, 2000.

Reading out the excerpts of book -- `Who owns CBI-The
Naked Truth` -- by retired CBI officer B R Lall, he claimed
that the Italian businessman and his wife Maria was having a
very proximate relationship with the Gandhis and that they
used to meet very frequently.

The CBI had, in October 2009, sought permission of the
court to withdraw the case against Quattrocchi, saying that
his continued prosecution was "unjustified" in the light of
various factors including the failed attempts of CBI
to extradite him.

"The continuance of prosecution against Quattrocchi
will be unjustified. It is considered expedient in the
interest of justice that the proceedings against him should
not be continued and be withdrawn," the CBI had pleaded in its
9-page application.
Quattrocchi has never appeared before any court in the
country.

CBI had failed on two occasions in its attempt to get
Quattrocchi extradited -- first from Malaysia in 2003 and then
from Argentina in 2007.

However, the plea of the investigating agency was
opposed by Agarwal.

Agarwal, who has been pursuing the case in the Supreme
Court and had approached the trial court against CBI`s move to
seek a closure of the case, contended the Centre and the
agency were trying to close the case despite having sufficient
evidence against Quattrocchi.

The plea was countered by CBI which said it was
difficult to secure presence of Quattrocchi for prosecution
and moreover, all other accused are either dead or
charges against them have been quashed by the Delhi High
Court.

Besides Agarwal, Nirdhan Nishulk Kanooni Sahayata
Saimiti, an NGO, had also filed an application objecting to
the CBI`s move for the withdrawal of the case.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 21:11

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