Bofors pay-off case records sent to trial court

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the transfer of Bofors pay-off case records to a trial court which is hearing a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking withdrawal of prosecution against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Directing the transfer of records to the court of chief metropolitan magistrate, an apex court bench of Justice Harjit Singh Bedi and Justice C.K. Prasad said that these should be sent back to it after the disposal of the case in trial court or even earlier, if required.

Opposing the CBI plea, petitioner counsel Ajay K. Agarwal told the court that his petition challenging the acquittal of non-resident Indian industrialist Hinduja brothers in the case was already on board and could come up for hearing next week.

He said that the non-availability of the pay-off case records would come in the way of the hearing of his petition.

The petitioner counsel said that 70-year-old Quattrocchi was roaming freely around the world and the CBI was now withdrawing prosecution against him so that he could be welcomed to India at some later stage.

Agarwal told the court that transferring the case records to a subordinate court when an appeal is already on before it would set a “bad precedent”.

He told the court that the CBI never came in appeal against the acquittal of Hinduja brothers by the Delhi High Court in 2005. He said that the CBI was “hand in gloves” with Quattrocchi.

Apparently not taking kindly to an overtly aggressive approach of the petitioner counsel, the court asked him to lower his decibel level and observed that “we are not going to be dictated by you”.

“You will not decide”, the court told Agarwal.

The court also wondered the justification of the plea taken by the petitioner counsel. “I wonder what kind of plea is this,” asked Justice Prasad.

The CBI in its application seeking transfer of records said that, during the pendency of the appeal by the petitioner counsel, after examining the entire issue it decided to withdraw its case against Quattrocchi.

However, the trial court could not proceed on its plea as records were before the apex court.

The investigating agency told the apex court that it was seeking the transfer of records so that the trial court could decide on its application for the withdrawal of the Italian businessman’s prosecution.

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