A Delhi court on Tuesday reserved its order on a plea of Central Bureau of Investigation seeking withdrawal of criminal proceedings against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in more than two-decade-old Bofors case.
The judgment on Quattrocchi, the sole surviving accused in the politically-sensitive case, will be announced on January 4 by the court which had heard the arguments of CBI and a lawyer who has been opposing the move to withdraw the case.
Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, during the arguments, contended continued prosecution of Quattrocchi was "unjustified" in the light of various factors including the failed attempts of CBI to extradite him. "I find that the continuance of prosecution against Quattrocchi will be unjustified. It is considered expedient in the interest of justice that the proceedings against him should not be continued and be withdrawn," the CBI pleaded in its nine-page application.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav has fixed the case for pronouncing the order on the plea.
The court, however, accorded an opportunity to advocate Ajay Agarwal, who is opposing the CBI's move, either to file his written arguments or advance oral submissions before the date fixed for the order.
In the application, CBI has said, "It is humbly and respectfully prayed that the court may consent to the withdrawal of the case."
Advocate Agrawal, who has been pursuing the case in the Supreme Court and had approached the trial court against CBI's move to seek a closure of the case, contended the Centre and the agency were trying to close the case despite having sufficient evidence against Quattrocchi.
The plea was countered by the CBI, which said it was difficult to secure presence of 70-year-old Quattrocchi for prosecution and moreover, all other accused are either dead or charges against them have been quashed by the Delhi high court.
The CBI also referred to the two judgments of the high court that quashed all charges against the other key accused in the case to justify dropping of case against the Italian businessman.
During the hearing, ASG Malhotra and CBI prosecutors, U S Prasad and Naveen K Matta, had also questioned the 'locus standi' of Agarwal to intervene on the ground that either the state or the accused can be a party to a criminal case lodged for commission of cognisable offences.
The predecessor judge of CMM Vinod Yadav, who had earlier reserved its order and deferred the pronouncement on eight occasions, heard the matter afresh after the case files were sent by the Supreme Court.
Quattrocchi has never appeared before any court in the country.
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.
In November last year, the agency had asked the Interpol to take Quattrocchi's name off the Red Corner notice list.