New Delhi (Agencies): In connection with the two-decade old Bofors payoff scam, a Delhi court on Thursday reserved its order for February 21 on the CBI's plea seeking withdrawal of case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

The court would now decide on February 21 whether to accept CBI's plea for closing the case against Quattrocchi, chargesheeted for allegedly receiving a payoff of USD 7.32 million for brokering Rs 64 crore Bofors gun deal.

While reserving his order, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav sternly turned down the appeal of advocate Ajay   Agrawal, who has been agitating in various courts for extradition of Quattrocchi to India, to give him some more time to provide the court some crucial information, which he expected from the Central Information Commission.

"Since, this court has heard the argument there is no point in holding back the order for the information of the Central Information Commission (CIC). Put the matter for pronouncement of order on February 21," CMM Yadav said.

Refusing to accede to Agrawal's plea, the court said, "He has been heard in public interest for fairly long time. This court does not intend to grant further time to him."

In fact, at the outset the court told him to finish his argument without fail on Thursday and not to seek any extension on any pretext, as he did on many hearings earlier.

"I would proceed with this that you (Agrawal) finish your arguments today. I have given you enough time," the CMM cautioned him.

CBI asked total expense on probe

CMM Yadav reserved his order observing that the case has "not moved an inch" in the last 23 to 24 years and asking the agency as to how much of total money has been spent on the probe into the case.

"Do we have any rough calculation that how much money has been spent on this case? Is the figure of around Rs 250 crore, mentioned in the Delhi High Court's order correct?,"
the CMM asked the CBI, which, however, said that it has no ready-made calculation.

CIC info irrelevant

During the hearing, advocate Agrawal, who has been opposing the CBI plea for closure of the case against Quattrocchi, pleaded that the court should wait for the CIC's decision, likely to be delivered within this month, as it would prove crucial for the court in deciding the CBI's plea.

Turning down Agrawal's plea, the court said, "Advocate Agrawal is at liberty to place on record the documents/ informations which he receives from the CIC. But he will not be given any further chance to advance his arguments in this matter."  

Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, appearing for the CBI, opposed Agrawal's submissions saying that the information which he had sought from the CIC is not at all
relevant in this matter.

"The CIC's information is not relevant in this matter. Agrawal is wasting the time of the court," the ASG submitted. Earlier, the court had questioned CBI's decision to drop the case against Quattrocchi saying there were "certain malafide intentions".

"I understand that several malafide (intentions) were there in defreezing of bank account (of Quattrocchi) but can you verbally suggest me the ways to secure the presence of Quattrocchi after several attempts of CBI to extradite him had failed," the court had asked earlier when Agrawal contended that the withdrawal of the case against the sole accused should not be allowed.

Case registered in 1990

The CBI had registered a criminal case on January 20, 1990 to probe who were the beneficiaries of the pay-offs in the 1986 Bofors gun deal.

After completing its probe, the agency had filed two chargesheets in the case -- first one on October 22, 1999 and second one on October 9, 2000.

The CBI had, in October 2009, sought permission of the court to withdraw the case against 70-year-old Quattrocchi, saying that his continued prosecution was "unjustified" in the light of various factors including the failed attempts of the agency to extradite him.

"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 had pleaded in its nine-page application.