Bofors case: Charges against Quattrocchi dropped
NEW DELHI: Giving a legal burial, a Delhi court on Friday discharged Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi from the two-decade-old Bofors pay offs case, saying the country cannot afford to spend hard-earned money on his extradition which has already cost Rs 250 crore.
"Can we allow this hard earned money of aam aadmi of India to be spent on these type of proceedings which are not going to do any good to them, after almost 25 years of the so called arms deal. The answer would be a big no," ruled Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav in his 73-page order.
"The very question which stares us at our faces is whether it is justified for the government and CBI to continue to spend on the extradition of "Q", which may or may not ultimately happen during his lifetime," the court said allowing the CBI plea to withdraw the case against 70-year-old fugitive Italian.
Quattrocchi, who fled from here on July 29-30, 1993, has never appeared before any court in India to face prosecution.
The court held that "the decision of the CBI, seeking withdrawal of prosecution against Q on the face of it appears to be bonafide and in the larger public interest.
Referring to Quattrocchi as 'Q', CMM Yadav, in his order, said, "Accordingly, the learned Special Prosecutor of CBI is allowed to withdraw prosecution against Q.
Consequently, Q stands discharged from this case."
The court accepted the CBI plea noting that two earlier attempts by it to extradite Quattrocchi from two different countries have "miserably failed".
"The other ground taken is that two earlier attempts of CBI in extraditing Q, one in Malaysia and other in Argentina have failed," said the CMM.
Before pronouncing his order, CMM Yadav recited Sahir Ludhianvi's two famous lines from a Hindi film which amply indicated the outcome.
"Woh afsana jise anjam tak lana na ho mumkin, use ek khoobsurat more dekar chhorna hi achha. (It's better to end a story on a good note in case it cannot be brought to a logical end," said the CMM.
The withdrawal of case by the CBI in the case against Quattrocchi assumes significance as those named in the FIR have been given relief by Delhi High Court earlier.
The High Court on February 4, 2004 had quashed all charges under Prevention of Corruption Act and bribery against Europe-based Hinduja brothers -- S P Hinduja, G P Hinduja and P P Hinduja. The High Court had also given clean chit to Rajiv Gandhi and S K Bhatnagar who were dead.
The High Court on May 31, 2005 had struck down all the proceedings and remaining charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy against the Hinduja brothers and A B Bofors. The verdict was later challenged in the Supreme Court by Agrawal after the CBI failed to file appeal within the mandatory 90 days.
The apex court has admitted his appeal and the matter is pending before it.
Other accused--Martin Ardbo of Bofors and Win Chaddha, the alleged middleman--died during the pendency of the case.
In his order today, the CMM, while giving relief to Quattrocchi took into account the CBI argument that his extradition may not be possible in near future in view of the decisions by courts in Malaysia and Argentina.
The CMM sought to bring the curtains down on the issue, saying that India was already suffering from a "governance deficit", leading the aam admi in remote villages surviving without basic civic amenities.
"While we are busy discussing the Sensex and scams, India's poorest are barely surviving, thanks to an appalling governance deficit. In some areas of our country, we have no electricity, no roads, no proper water facilities. 50 per cent of India lives on less than US $ 2 a day, 100 million children go to bed hungry every night; 62 per cent live without power," said Yadav, painting a dismal picture of rural areas.