Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday informed the Supreme Court that all steps were being taken for securing the extradition of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, a key accused in the Bofors payoffs case, from Argentina.

Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam explained before a Bench consisting of Justices C.K. Thakker and V.S. Sirpurkar the steps taken by the CBI since the detention of Mr. Quattrocchi in Argentina on February 6 on an Interpol alert notice.

He denied the charge made by petitioner Ajay Agrawal that the CBI and the External Affairs Ministry were keeping quiet on the extradition issue.

An Argentina court was to hear the extradition case on March 23.

Mr. Subramaniam denied that the CBI had committed contempt by suppressing information. In the light of the explanation, the Bench adjourned the hearing by four weeks.

The Centre had on March 1 furnished documents for extradition to Argentine authorities through diplomatic channels.

A team of two CBI officers reached Buenos Aires that day 1 to pursue the matter.Lilian Delgado was appointed public prosecutor to represent the Government of India.

Disputing the petitioner's contention, the CBI said "India and Argentina do not have an extradition treaty but India could request extradition on a reciprocal basis."

Adequate steps were already taken by the Government of India to secure the extradition of Mr. Quattrocchi, and the matter was under the consideration of Argentine authorities in accordance with Argentine law, the CBI said and sought dismissal of the petition.

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