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Court allows closure of Bofors case, relief for Quattrocchi
NEW DELHI, MAR 4 (IANS):
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Published on 4 Mar. 2011 11:55 PM IST
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A Delhi court Friday closed the Rs.640 million kickbacks case related to the 1986 Bofors gun deal on a plea by the CBI, dropping criminal charges against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, the only accused still alive in one of the country’s biggest scandals and whom India has repeatedly failed to extradite.
Accepting the Central Bureau of Investigation’s closure report and observing that too much time and money had gone into it, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav observed: “At this moment we have to end the case, therefore I allow the CBI plea to close the case.
“I think the CBI has moved this application to close this case after applying their minds, therefore there is no need of wasting public money in continuing the investigation.”
“There is a long list of cases pending in lower courts. Therefore we want this case to be closed as the defence counsel has no locus standi in this case,” he said.
“We have already spent Rs.250 crore during investigation during this case which was public money. Therefore, we don’t want the public money to be wasted,” the court added.
The premier investigative agency was seeking to close all criminal cases against Italian businessman Quattrocchi, one of the alleged recipients of kickbacks in the controversial Rs.15 billion Bofors gun deal in 1986 that had led to the fall of the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989.
Many influential figures were accused of receiving payoffs in the deal which involved the purchase of Bofors guns for the Indian army. Many of the accused have since died or been exonerated in the case. CBI counsel U.S. Prasad and Naveen Kumar Matta expressed happiness over the court’s order. “It was in public interest to withdraw the case and our application was bonafide,” said Matta.
“Two attempts made for the extradition of Quattrocchi failed. The court, in view of the delay in the case, found our application bonafide.”
However, the defence counsels said they will appeal against the court order. “I will appeal this order in a high court and the Supreme Court as well,” said defence counsel Ajay Aggarwal.
The CBI had been seeking withdrawal of the case against Quattrocchi, who had never appeared before any Indian court to face trial citing lack of evidence, even as a tax tribunal ruled in December 2010 that illegal commissions were indeed paid in the deal. The agency had said its plea to withdraw the case has been filed with bonafide intention as it has spent a huge amount of money on the investigation but has not been able to arrest Quattrocchi.

 
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