The Central Bureau of Investigation will formally move an application before the Magistrates Court in Delhi on Saturday withdrawing the cases against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors Gun Deal, the Union Law Minister has said.
“The Government has taken a decision for withdrawal of the cases and the Public Prosecutor, on behalf of the CBI, will move an application before the Magistrate’s Court on October 3,” M Veerappa Moily said.
The Minister, who is here at the invitation of the British Government, said that since a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was pending before the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General thought it fit that it should be brought to the notice of the Apex Court.
Mr. Moily, himself an eminent lawyer, pointed out that Justice J D Kapoor, Judge of the Delhi High Court on February 4, 2004, had quashed all charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Bribery under the Penal Code in the Bofors case. The judgment exonerated the late Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister and S K Bhatnagar, the Defence Secretary during the period.
Judge Kapoor observed that the charges were “framed purely on the basis of irrelevant inferences, presumptions, surmises, conjectures and through riotous imagination by even introducing personal knowledge of facts which were not set up by the CBI little realizing that criminal trials cannot proceed nor can succeed on such premises without there being any material or evidence corroborating those inferences.”
The Minister said if there would have been some evidence to pursue, “we would not have hesitated to pursue.”
Mr. Moily noted that the CBI has been pursuing the cases everywhere. “There is no point in pursuing this matter. There are no cases under Prevention of Corruption Act.
“When there is no case under the Prevention of Corruption Act where is the question of criminality involved.
No appeal was also filed. The judgement came during the NDA regime.
“The matter was taken up before the Argentinian Court and then before the Malaysian Court. Everywhere it failed. The Argentinian Court levied heavy cost on the Government for pursuing the case after so many years as the case has been pending since 1986,” said Mr. Moily.
The senior Congress leader said the final payment for the Bofors Gun Deal was made in 1990 when the V P Singh Government was in office. “If they had any doubt, why did they make the final payment,” he asked.
He also noted that for major part of the period, the opposition parties were in power. “If they wanted to recover money, they should have filed a civil case “but it is time-barred as it had to be done within three years,” Mr. Moily underlined.
The Law Minister said “it is not a question of Quattrocchi or whoever“.
“We are not interested in defending anybody. The question is whether any worthwhile result will come out by pursuing the case,” said Mr. Moily, who attended the formal inauguration of the Supreme Court of Great Britain on Wednesday.