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CBI letting off Quattrocchi challenged in SC

CBI letting off Quattrocchi challenged in SC

Author: PTI
Publication: The Times of India
Date: April 28, 2009

The CBI's decision to withdraw the Red Corner Notice against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Rs 64 crore Bofors payoff case was challenged in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The challenge came through a hurriedly drafted 18-page application by advocate Ajay Agrawal that was filed in the SC Registry minutes before the court closed for the day.

Agrawal moved the application in his PIL, pending since 2006, challenging CBI's lackadaisical approach in getting Quattrocchi extradited from Argentina, where Interpol authorities had arrested him on the basis of the Red Corner Notice issued at the request of CBI.

The PIL has also questioned the manner in which the UPA government had given consent in 2006 to the Crown Prosecution of UK to defreeze Quattrocchi's bank account, which was lying frozen since 2003 on the allegation that part of Bofors payoff money was deposited there.

In his application in the pending PIL, Agrawal requested the apex court to set aside the CBI's decision to withdraw the Red Corner Notice against Quattrocchi. He has also pleaded that the Red Corner Notice be reissued against the Italian businessman, who should be arrested and produced before the concerned court in India for trial.

He said the CBI and the government have done enough "flip flops" on the issue and alleged that both have shown disrespect to the apex court's orders. Giving an instance, he said despite the January 16, 2006, order directing status quo in the defreezing of Quattrocchi's London bank account, the government and CBI did nothing to prevent the money from being withdrawn immediately by Quattrocchi.

"It is clear from the conduct of the CBI top officials and the government of India that they wanted Quattrocchi to get the frozen money and for that purpose the government sent its law officer to London to facilitate the release," Agrawal alleged.

He also cited the October 7, 2005, unsolicted opinion of additional solicitor general, Kalyan Pathak, who was asked to give an opinion whether or not CBI should appeal against the May 31, 2005, judgment of the Delhi High Court giving a clean chit to the Hinduja brothers. But, he went on to opine that Quattrocchi was not a fugitive and no case against him would stand in the Indian court.

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