NEW DELHI: Pressing for closure of Bofors payoffs case against Italian businessman, Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi, the CBI on Tuesday contended before a Delhi court there was “nothing new” in the ITAT order that would obstruct the withdrawal of the over two-decade-old criminal proceedings.
“I am not disputing what the tribunal has said. That is the case of prosecutor (CBI) also and it is mentioned in the charge-sheet. There is nothing new,” the additional solicitor-general, Mr P P Malhotra told the chief metropolitan magistrate, Mr Vinod Yadav.
The court, which was to pass its order on the politically sensitive case, started hearing arguments again after Supreme Court lawyer, Mr Ajay Agarwal submitted that the matter be looked into afresh in the light of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal’s order on Monday that kickbacks of Rs 41 crore were paid to late Win Chaddha and Mr Quattrocchi in the Howitzer gun deal.
The court, which initially expressed reservation on taking into account ITAT’s order saying that it was passed by different forum and for different reason, agreed to hear the contentions of the CBI again as well as that of Mr Agarwal who is opposing the investigating agency’s application.
Initiating the arguments, Mr Malhotra, on behalf of the CBI, said that it has not got any fresh instruction from the government pertaining to the withdrawal of case against 70-year-old Mr Quattrocchi in light of the tribunal’s order.
He further said that the court should decide the CBI’s plea for withdrawing the case without going into its merits and that it should only consider whether the application has been filed “bonafide, in good faith and in public interest”.
“There is no need for the court to go into the merits of the case. The court should look only whether there is a bonafide intention on the part of CBI or not. Merits have no relevance in this case,” he said.
The ITAT order, which had said that kickbacks were paid to late Chaddha and Mr Quattrocchi in the Howitzer gun deal, was placed before the court.
Countering CBI’s arguments, Mr Agarwal submitted that the Union Law Minister, Mr M Veerappa Moily had on Monday made a statement that the government will examine the issue afresh in the light of ITAT order.
At this, the CMM asked the ASG about the government’s stand. “I would like to know your comments on Law Minister’s statement,” Mr Yadav said.
Mr Malhotra, however, said that he was not aware of any such statement and the application for withdrawal of the proceedings against Mr Quattrocchi was filed after examining all aspects of the case.
The court, which heard the case for over three hours, adjourned till January 6 the proceedings when Mr Agarwal expressed his inability to continue in view of his mother’s sudden illness.
During the arguments, Mr Agarwal alleged that the CBI is trying to protect Mr Quattrocchi as he has always been “very close” to the family of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
“There is no bonafide, public interest and good faith behind the CBI’s decision to withdraw the case against Quattrocchi,” he said.
The CBI had registered a criminal case on January 20, 1990 to probe who were the beneficiaries of the payoffs in the 1986 Bofors gun deal.