The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the Supreme Court on Tuesday it wanted to withdraw the corruption case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.
With that, the Bofors scam, which rocked the country in the late 1980s seemed finally set for burial. “All efforts to extradite Quattrocchi have failed,” said Gopal Subramanium, Solicitor General, explaining the decision, which had the centre’s consent.
The court withheld a final view, saying it would take it up on December 11.
Quattrocchi was alleged to have played a key role in the Bofors case, which involved payments of kickbacks for howitzer
guns the Indian army bought from the Swedish armaments manufacturer, Bofors.
Allegations of the late PM Rajiv Gandhi’s involvement in the scam are widely held to have led to the Congress’s defeat in 1989. Gandhi, who was killed in a bomb blast in 1991 was, however, cleared of all charges in 2004 by Delhi High Court.
The decision to close the case against Quattrocchi comes a year after the CBI asked Interpol to withdraw its global ‘look out notice’.
Political reactions to the CBI’s step were sharp. The BJP charged that the government was bailing out Quattrocchi. “He has high connections, he knew too much,” said BJP spokesman, Ravi Shankar Prasad.