Discharge of `Q` in Bofors case; some hail, others ridicule CBI
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Last Updated: Friday, March 04, 2011, 22:30
New Delhi: A Delhi court's order allowing a legal burial to the two-decade-old Bofors pay offs case against elusive Italian Ottavio Quattrocchi has drawn mixed reactions from legal experts as some faulted CBI for the delay and others termed it as a futile prosecution.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was Solicitor General in the NDA regime, justified the discharge of Quattrocchi, a view not shared by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi.

Rohatgi, who as an Additional Solicitor General during the NDA Government, played an important role in the Bofors case, said CBI cannot take advantage of delay in seeking withdrawal of the case as "the agency itself was a party to it".

"Delay is also because of CBI. How can a party be allowed to take advantage of its own delay? And say that investigation should be finished. They delayed it, they allowed him to escape. It is the use of advantage of delay by a party which has been guilty of delay," Rohatgi said.

"My response is CBI is right. Why waste public money on prosecuting a case in which nobody is interested. Its a question of what is relevant ..If you talk of figures, then the figure of Rs 65 crore looks petty change on the kind of issues floating around now," Salve said.

However, the former Solicitor General said the case should be buried as no government was serious.

"If talking of point of investigation into the case then I think no government has been serious about the case. If no government is serious, best is that the case is buried rather than to waste more money on people traveling all over the world trying to find evidences which no one is interested in producing in the court of law," Salve said.

CBI, in its application, took the plea that its two earlier attempts to get Quattrochhi extradited has failed and the fact that others co-accused have either died or discharged also made the continuance of the case as futile.

The non-possibility of bringing the Italian here and the lapse of time in the process necessitated the filing of the plea seeking withdrawal of the case, the agency had said.

Rohatgi ridiculed CBI for its inability to bring the accused before an Indian court.

"CBI has no answer as to why it allowed him to escape on more than one occasion," he said, adding "the court order can be challenged by any public-spirited citizen because obviously the CBI or the government would not challenge it."

"Each of the countries has refused extradition (of 'Q') in the past so how long do we want to flog a dead horse?", a senior advocate, on the condition of anonymity, said while endorsing the CBI's plea.

Special CBI prosecutors U S Prasad and Naveen Kumar Matta expressed satisfaction over the outcome.

"I feel satisfied as our stand has been vindicated after a long battle. The court has allowed our reasoned plea seeking withdrawal of the case," one of the prosecutors said.

"Considering various circumstances, we filed the application. The court after considering the facts concluded that our plea is bonafide... there has been a long delay and there is no question of extraditing him," Matta said.

On the contrary, advocate Ajay Agrawal, who has been opposing the CBI's move, expressed dissatisfaction saying "I am definitely going to appeal against this order. If the case is finally closed, then there would be no rule of law left in this country..."

First Published: Friday, March 04, 2011, 22:30

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