Vinay Kumar

Bofors and `Q' saga get curiouser

It was not a fit case for filing an SLPProsecution failed to get Quattrocchi extradited

NEW DELHI: Additional Solicitor-General K. P. Pathak had maintained on October 7, 2005 that the CBI was unable to show that funds in the accounts had any link with the offences of conspiracy, cheating and corruption made out in the Bofors case.

In his 15-page opinion if a Special Leave Petition (SLP) ought to be filed challenging the Delhi High Court judgment of May 31, 2005, Mr. Pathak held that "proceedings against all the accused persons such as the Hindujas, Bofors and Quattrocchi will be nothing but an abuse of the process of the Court." In his opinion, it was not a fit case for filing an SLP.

He observed that the prosecution took long time of about nine years to file the first charge-sheet in the Bofors case and it was followed by a supplementary charge-sheet. "Even, now the prosecution is admittedly neither in a position to procure the original documents in terms of the Evidence Act, nor [can it] state affirmatively that it would be in a position to prove the said photocopied documents in terms of the mandatory provisions of the Indian Evidence Act," he said.

According to Mr. Pathak's opinion, a copy of which was accessed by The Hindu, the prosecution in spite of vigorously pursuing at all judicial proceedings at all levels of Malaysian courts, has failed in its endeavour to extradite Mr. Quattrocchi. "Further more, the prosecution's endeavour to prosecute the public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act has also failed," the ASG said.

After nine years of investigation, the CBI on September 22, 1999 filed a charge-sheet in the court of Special Judge, Delhi. In the course of Mr. Pathak's query to the CBI officials, it came to light that the agency was unable to produce any original document or authenticated document in terms of the Indian Evidence Act. The CBI was relying upon the same documents in the case against Mr. Quattrocchi.

The ASG observed that Mr. Quattrocchi's name neither figured in the FIR nor was he interrogated by the CBI till July 1993 even though the investigations by the agency commenced in 1990. He left India for Malaysia on June 29, 1993 and on February 6, 1997 a non-bailable warrant was issued against him by the Special Court which could not be executed.

A charge-sheet was filed against Mr. Quattrocchi and former Bofors agent W.N. Chadha on September 22, 1999. The Special Court took cognisance of the offences against the two on November 5, 1999, six years after Mr. Quattrocchi left the country. The Government made a request to the Malaysian Government for his extradition on March 7, 2000 which was further supplemented by certain information in July, 2000. It went to the Malaysian Sessions Court and to the level of the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

"At all levels, the Malaysian Courts ruled against the extradition of Mr. Quattrocchi. The sessions court had ruled against the extradition on the ground that the charges alleged against Mr. Quattrocchi were vague and untenable and did not make out a case of extradition,'' the ASG noted.