The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday alleged that "high connections" came to the rescue of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, accused of taking kickbacks in the purchase of Bofors guns, as the centre asked the Supreme Court to stop prosecution against him.
Hinting at a "larger design" to bail him out, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters: "Quattrocchi has high connections because of which he has always been saved."
"It is unfortunate, we condemn it. The way attempts are being made to save him shows the character of the (Congress-led) United Progressive Alliance (UPA)," he said.
Prasad added: "This seems to be part of a larger design to bail out Quattrocchi to probably save somebody."
The central government Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to stop all prosecution against Quattrocchi for his alleged involvement in the Bofors payoff case.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam made the statement before a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan during the hearing of a lawsuit of 1997, which had made an abortive demand for freezing of Quattrocchi's London bank account.
Quattrocchi is accused of receiving bribe as a middleman in the 1.2 billion dollar purchase of artillery from Swedish arms maker Bofors AB in 1986 for the Indian Army. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Responding to the BJP's allegations, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in power between 1998 and 2004.
"But despite going to different courts, including Federal Court of Malaysia, they were not even able to establish a case of extradition (against Quattrocchi)."
Tewari also said: "Just because it suits the opposition, this should not mean it (the case) should continue."