Advani questions CBI clean chit to Quattrocchi

Advani questions CBI clean chit to QuattrocchiGandhinagar, Apr 28 : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani on Tuesday strongly questioned the Central Bureau of Investigation''''s decision to remove the name of the lone surviving suspect in the Bofors payoff case Ottavio Quattrocchi from the Interpol''''s list of most wanted persons.

"Overall the performance of CBI in the last five years, it should be investigated. In a way they have become a tool in the hands of political parties," Advani said during a road show in Gandhinagar.

Advani said, "Party (BJP) in New Delhi will discuss the matter, but I want to say that it is not just about Quattrocchi."

The CBI''''s decision to eliminate Quattrocchi from the most wanted list is expected to be formally conveyed to the court on April 30.

The agency''''s decision is based on the legal advice of Attorney General Milon Banerjee. On October 28, last year, Banerjee had described the Red Corner Notice (RCN) as " a continued embarrassment."

A newspaper report quoted Banerjee as saying, "The CBI is under obligation to have the matters set right at the Interpol level, as there is no basis on which the Red Corner Notice can continue. I am of the firm opinion that immediate action should be taken to withdraw the notice."

In October 2008, Quattrocchi''''s counsel had asked the CBI to explain the continuation and legal validity of the Red Corner Notice issued by the Interpol Secretariat General.

When the issue came to CBI''''s Director (Prosecution) SK Sharma, he said that the notice was no longer applicable as the arrest warrant dated February 6, 1997, on the basis of which the RCN was issued, had been cancelled by a warrant of November 5, 1999.

Sharma suggested that the Law Ministry''''s opinion be sought on the issue.

Following Sharma''''s recommendation, the Attorney General observed, "The whole purpose of a warrant of arrest is to secure the presence of the accused. This is possible by extradition when the accused is abroad. But two attempts have failed and the judgements indicate that there are no good grounds for extradition. The warrant cannot remain in force forever. Therefore, the warrant dated February 1997 would lose its validity, particularly in view of the failed attempts of the CBI to extradite the accused in Malaysia and Argentina."

The Bofors scandal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1980s, when the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply India''''s 155 mm field howitzer.

The scandal was worth Rs. 150 billion. (ANI)