30 Apr : The CBI, which asked the Interpol to drop the name of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi from the list of most wanted persons on Thursday sought two months time from a Delhi court to decide further course of action against the Bofors payoff case accused.
"The opinion of Attorney General of India was shared with the Interpol and the Red Corner Notice was revoked on November 25, 2008. Now the CBI is considering various options available to it in consultation with the Government," Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra submitted.
During a brief hearing before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja, Malhotra and counsel Naveen Kumar Matta, appearing for CBI, sought two months time to file status report in the case.
The court then inquired as to what options were left with the prosecution in the case against 70-year-old Quattrocchi."There were eight accused in the case. Three are already dead, four were acquitted by the Delhi High Court in February 2004. Various attempts to get Quattrocchi extradited to India have failed," the ASG said, sidestepping the question put to him.
"The matter is under the active consideration of the CBI and the Central Government. It is submitted that it would take about two months to enable the CBI to place the next status report in the matter," he submitted.
Taking the contention of the CBI into account, the court adjourned the matter for September eight.In an attempt to convince the court that the probe agency made all efforts to extradite Quattrocchi to India to face charges, the CBI said that it hired best counsel and spent huge money to get the accused back.
"It may be relevant to mention that the CBI had engaged the best counsels and has spent huge amount to bring back Quattrocchi," Malhotra said in an application filed in the court.
The ASG also referred to CBI’s attempt to extradite Quattrocchi from Malaysia where he was arrested in 2002 following Red Corner Notice against him in 1997 but it could not succeed as its request was rejected by four different courts there.
Similar efforts were made by the CBI in 2007 when Quattrocchi was arrested in Argentina but it again failed as extradition request was rejected by a court there with a cost imposed on the Government of India, he said.
Quattrocchi is the sole surviving accused in the Bofors case after three accused – Win Chaddha, former defence secretary S K Bhatnagar and former Bofors Chief Martin Ardbo died during the court proceedings and other four Hinduja brothers Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand and Bofors company were acquitted by the Delhi High Court in 2005.
Quattrocchi had never appeared before the court to face charges in the Bofors payoff case despite several warrants.The CBI, in its application, also informed the court that Quattrocchi had made representation before it and the Interpol for the discontinuation of the Red Corner Notice, and threatened to sue the Centre for dragging him to unnecessary litigation.Withdrawal of Red Corner Notice will allow Quattrocchi to move freely around the world.
An important hearing relating to Quattrocchi was also held on 19th September last year when the court had allowed CBI to take back some "classified documents" relating to the Italian businessman from the case file on the request of the Prime Minister’s Office.
CBI had registered the FIR in the Bofors case on 22nd January, 1990, three years after Swedish Radio on 16th April, 1987, claimed A B Bofors, the makers of the howitzer field guns (155mm) had paid kickbacks to top Indian politicians and key defence officials to secure the Rs 1,437 crore contract.