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To let Q off, wheels had begun to move in the first UPA govt itself

To let Q off, wheels had begun to move in the first UPA govt itself

Author: Ritu Sarin
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: October 2, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/to-let-q-off-wheels-had-begun-to-move-in-the-first-upa-govt-itself/524119/

It was the last UPA Government that had already set the stage for the withdrawal of all cases against Bofors-accused Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

In a clear departure from its earlier reticence over handling of the Quattrocchi cases, this time the UPA Government's entire top legal team got together to prepare the ground for the withdrawal of charges against Quattrocchi. The withdrawal application is set to be filed in the Tis Hazari courts on Saturday.

Speaking to The Indian Express from London, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said that the reference from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on the withdrawal of cases was already on file when the second tenure of the UPA began.

He said, "The Government's sanction to the CBI for filing a withdrawal application has been given and the opinions of the former Attorney General (Milon Banerjee) and the former Law Minister (H R Bharadwaj) were already on the file stating that no case was made out. However, we still decided to thoroughly reexamine the matter and the opinions of the present Attorney General (Goolam Vahanvati) and the Solicitor General (Gopal Subramaniam) were sought before referring the matter back to the DoPT and giving the clearance to the CBI."

The Law Minister added: "All these law officers consulted were of the same opinion and after all, how many AGs and SGs can the Government consult in a single matter? How long can a dead horse be flogged so that fuel is given to political parties?"

Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told The Indian Express that when the Quattrocchi matter was referred to them, he and the AG "examined the issue individually and later deliberated on it as a team."

He admitted that as per procedure, all opinions in the case were submitted to the DoPT. Also, as required under Section 321 of the CrPC, the Government's consent has also been given for the CBI's public prosecutor to make a submission for a formal withdrawal of the cases.

"Everything has been done in a bonafide manner, after a careful application of mind and a free exchange of views. We decided to show professional courage," Subramaniam told The Indian Express. "The Law Minister approved our stand."

Both the Law Minister and the Solicitor General agreed that the February 2004 Delhi High Court judgment, which removed criminality from the Bofors case, was crucial in assessing the charges against Quattrocchi.

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