Solicitor General's appearance in Bofors case objected in SC

New Delhi: A strong objection was today raised in the Supreme Court over the appearance of Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium on behalf of CBI in the Bofors pay off case on the ground that he was a defence counsel for one of the main accused prior to his appointment as the law officer.

Advocate Ajay Agrawal, who had pursued the case in various courts, alleged that Subramanium was the counsel for the late Win Chadha, who was issued charge sheet by the CBI in the gun deal.

The counsel said he has serious objections to Subramanium's appearing in the case as Chadha, who was accused of acting as middleman in the deal, was represented by him before he became law officer for the government in 2004.

"I have also filed a complaint with the Bar Council of India (BCI) against Subramanium," he submitted before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and justices B S Chauhan and Chandramauli Kumar Prasad.

However, the Solicitor General opposed Agrawal's stand saying Chadha died almost a decade ago.

"I can't meet a client who died almost a decade ago. He has left for heaven," Subramanium said about Chadha, who died on October 24, 2001.

Chadha was issued charge sheet along with former defence secretary S K Bhatnagar, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi and Bofors chief Martin Ardbo on October 22, 1999. The company was also named as an accused. Bhatnagar and Ardbo have also died.

Agrawal asked that when the issue arising out of the case is pending in trial court and apex court, how can an advocate, who was a defence counsel turn up for the prosecution.

At this point, the bench, which was a hearing Agrawal's petition against Quattrocchi, asked him to make submission on the issue for which the matter was listed. It questioned the advocate for pursuing the case against Quattrocchi in the apex court saying "some of your prayers don't even survive".

Agrawal, however, said here it was the question of rule of law and "the court has to uphold the rule of law" as several developments have taken place after he moved a petition against Quattrocchi.

"The accused is not above the rule of law," the counsel said while narrating some developments relating to the case including the application filed by CBI in the trial court for withdrawing the case against Quattrocchi which has been fixed for hearing on March 31.

However, the bench asked him to confine himself to the averments and prayers made by him in the petition.

"Don't mix up all these things. Restrict yourself to averments and prayers made by you in the writ petition," the bench said.

Realising that there was paucity of time as the advocate said he will make a detail arguments, the bench posted the matter for hearing on February 16.

The advocate had filed the petition in 2006 seeking directions for the CBI to take action to stop defreezing of Quattrocchi's accounts in a bank in London.