Legal Correspondent

Pact with Argentina exists: application

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the Government and the CBI's response to an application asserting the existence of an extradition treaty between India and Argentina and that Ottavio Quattrocchi, accused in the Rs. 64-crore Bofors pay-offs case, could be handed over to India in terms of the agreement.

A Bench of Justices C. K. Thakker and P.K. Balasubramanyan gave this direction on the application filed by advocate Ajay Agrawal, who enclosed documents on the treaty's existence.

Mr. Agrawal said Mr. Quattrocchi was released on bail, but Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam suppressed even this fact on Monday when an application was mentioned for extradition of the Italian businessman.

Mr. Subramaniam said he would file a formal reply to the present application within a week and the Bench granted time.

Mr. Agrawal said an important fact was consistently concealed to bail out Mr. Quattrocchi on the plea that there was no extradition treaty with Argentina. He said there was a pre-Independence extradition treaty, which India inherited as a successor state.

In 1956, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru tabled in Parliament, in reply to a question, a list of "extradition treaties" concluded by the British government, on behalf of India before Independence, which were still in force. "The reply depicts the existence of a treaty with Argentina from May 22, 1889," said Mr. Agrawal.

The Extradition Treaty of 1962 clearly states "a treaty made by India with a foreign state relating to extradition of fugitive criminals and includes any treaty relating to the extradition of fugitive criminals made before August 15, 1947, which extends to and is binding on India."

In another document, `International Criminal Police Organisation' (Interpol) wing of the CBI, it was shown, "we have pre-Independence treaties, which are still valid according to our law, and Argentina figures in the list."

Mr. Agrawal said: "The request for the provisional arrest may be made, if necessary, through the Interpol network. Recourse to the Interpol machinery ensures speedy arrest but in no way does it seek to be a substitute for the more formal diplomatic procedure of extradition."

The application sought immediate directions to the Centre and the CBI for getting Mr. Quattrocchi extradited in terms of the 1889 treaty.

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