The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday pleaded for the withdrawal of proceedings against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the over two-decade-old Bofors pay off case, saying it has got no fresh instructions from the government in the wake of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal order.
As soon as proceeding began before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav, Supreme Court advocate Ajay Agarwal, who has challenged the CBI's move, contended that the matter be re-looked into in view of the ITAT's recent order.
Yadav then asked Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, who was appearing for the CBI, whether it has received any fresh instructions on the issue.
Malhotra replied that no fresh instructions have been given even as he sought withdrawal of the case against 70-year-old Quattrocchi.
The chief metropolitan magistrate, who had earlier heard the arguments of all the parties including the CBI, heard the agency's contentions after the recent ITAT order.
The ITAT order, which had on Monday said that kickbacks of Rs 41 crore were paid to late Win Chaddha and Quattrocchi in the Howitzer gun deal, was placed before the court.
Agarwal submitted that Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily had made a statement saying that the government will re-look into the issue in light of the ITAT order.
The court, after hearing Agarwal's contentions, asked the additional solicitor general about the stand of the government.
"I would like to know your comments on the law minister's statement," CMM Yadav said.
Malhotra said that he is not aware of any such statement and this withdrawal application was filed after looking at all aspects of the case in depth.
The court had earlier reserved its order on CBI's plea seeking withdrawal of criminal proceedings against Quattrocchi, the sole surviving accused in the politically-sensitive case.
Agrawal, who has been pursuing the case in the Supreme Court and had approached the trial court against the CBI's move to seek a closure of the case, had contended that the government and the agency were trying to close the case despite having sufficient evidence against Quattrocchi.
Justifying its closure report, the CBI had earlier contended that it was difficult to secure the presence of Quattrocchi for prosecution. All the other accused were either dead or charges against them had been quashed by the Delhi high court, said the agency.
The CBI had failed on two occasions in its attempt to get Quattrocchi extradited -- first from Malaysia in 2003 and then from Argentina in 2007.
Last November, the agency had asked the Interpol to take Quattrocchi's name off the Red Corner notice list.