CBI seeks closure of cases against Quattrocchi in Bofors pay off case

      The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday filed an application before the Chief Metropolitan Court in Delhi seeking closure of the Bofors pay off case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi. In the nine-page application filed before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja the CBI said, "It is humbly and respectfully prayed that the court may consent to the withdrawal of the case." The CBI filed a withdrawal report under Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code. (CrPC) The CBI also informed the court that all efforts to extradite Quattrocchi to face trial in India had failed. The CBI contended that the continued prosecution of Quattrocchi was unjustified in the light of the failed attempts to extradite him. After filing the plea, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P P Malhotra said the court has a limited role in deciding the application and added that the CBI's plea could only be turned down on grounds that it has been filed under extraneous considerations Malhotra further said that all other accused are either dead or charges against them have been quashed by the Delhi High Court in 2005. "I find that the continuance of the 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 It is considered expedient in the interest of justice that the proceedings against him should not be continued and be withdrawn," Malhotra said. The CBI also opposed the petition filed by Delhi based Advocate Ajay Agrawal, pleading rejection of the closure report of the CBI. The Public Prosecutor said Agrawal has no locus standi to intervene in the matter. Advocate Agrawal, who has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the Supreme Court, had approached the trial court against the CBI's move to seek closure of the case. Agrawal alleged that the Centre and the CBI were trying to close the case despite having sufficient evidence against Quattrocchi. Quattrocchi, the lone surviving accused in the two-decade-old case has never appeared before any court in India. Earlier, on May 31, 2005 the Delhi High Court quashed the charges against other accused in the case. Earlier, in April, the Interpol on the directions of the CBI removed the red corner notice against Quattrocchi. The controversial Bofors gun deal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1980s, in which former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were allegedly accused of receiving kickbacks from A B Bofors the Swedish arms manufacturer for it to win the bid to supply the Indian Army with 155 mm howitzer guns. The court had on February 10, 1997, sent letters to Malaysia and the UAE seeking the arrest and extradition of Quattrocchi. The CBI had registered an FIR in the Bofors case on January 22, 1990, three years after Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, had claimed that A B Bofors had paid kickbacks to top Indian politicians and key defence officials to secure the Rs 1,437 crore gun deal. The contract between the Indian Government and AB Bofors was signed on March 24, 1986.

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