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Court reserves order on plea to acquit Quattrocchi
Published on 10 Oct. 2009 12:12 AM IST
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A city court on Friday reserved its order on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea to withdraw Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi’s name from the Bofors gun deal pay-off case. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja reserved the order for Oct 24 on whether the CBI’s application under Section 321 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) should be accepted. The CBI had Oct 3 moved an application before a court here to quash all charges against Quattrocchi in the two-decade-old Bofors pay-off case, saying the case cannot be kept pending forever as attempts to extradite him have failed in the past. “The continued prosecution of Quattrocchi is unjustified in the light of various factors, including the failed attempts to extradite him,” Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra appearing for the CBI had said before the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Baweja. Citing that the court has limited power under section 321 of CrPC, Malhotra said: “It is not the function of the court to make a fresh appraisal of the evidence and come to its own conclusion on the question whether there is a triable issue to be investigated by the court.” During the hearing, Malhotra made his written submission on whether anyone else, apart from the state, can be a party in the case. Opposing advocate Ajay Aggarwal’s application that he should be treated as complainant in the case, Malhotra said: “Petitioner has no locus standi to move the petition. The state is a master of litigation.” “It is the function and duty of the public prosecutor to examine the matter and to continue or not to continue with the prosecution and this power cannot be subject to the wishes of a third person even though he might be interested directly in the case.” He added that the publicity and politics has no role to play in such matters and such a petition cannot be entertained by the court. In a 1987 broadcast, a Swedish radio station alleged that nearly Rs.64 crore ($13 million) were paid in kickbacks to the Congress party and the Rajiv Gandhi government for the multi-billion dollar Bofors howitzer deal. The scandal shook the nation and Rajiv Gandhi lost his two-thirds majority in parliament in the post-Bofors election two years later.

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