CBI on Friday sought rejection of a plea opposing withdrawl of the two-decade-old Bofors pay-off case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in a Delhi court, saying politics and publicity should not be allowed to decide such matters.
CBI said the two lawyers who opposed its decision to withdraw the case did not have any locus standi and they should not be heard by the court.
"Publicity and politics have no role to play in such matters and such a petition cannot be entertained. The petitioners (advocates) are strangers to the investigation and prosecution. They, therefore, have no locus standi," Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra and CBI counsel Naveen Kumar Matta told the court.
The ASG's contention was objected to by petitioner advocate Ajay Agarwal who contended before the court that since a larger public interest is involved in the case, any member of the society can object to CBI's move to withdraw the case.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja, after hearing the arguments, reserved its order for October 24 on whether the objections raised by Agarawal and another lawyer Jitender Soni could be heard while deciding CBI's application.
Earlier, CBI's prosecutor U S Prasad had filed an application before the court on October three seeking withdrawal of the case against Quattrocchi on the ground that "continuance of his prosecution will be unjustified."
In his submission, the ASG said the court has a limited role in deciding CBI's application to drop the case against Quattrocchi.
"Under Section 321 of the CrPC (in which CBI filed its application), it is not the function of the court to make a fresh appraisal of the evidence and come to its own conclusion on the question whether there is a triable issue to be investigated by the court," Malhotra said in his 8-page written submission.
He argued the power to decide withdrawl of the case was vested in the public prosecutor.
"The state is the master of litigation. It is the function and duty of public prosecutor to examine the matter and to continue or not to continue the prosecution, keeping in view various facts and circumstances," he said.
The agency had sought withdrwal of the case saying it has arrived at the conclusion after its failure on two occasions to get the Italian businessman extradited from Malaysia and Argentina to face the trial in India.
It was claimed by CBI that the plea to withdraw the case was filed in "good faith and in public interest."
Quattrocchi is the sole surviving accused in the case after the Delhi High Court quashed the charges against other accused on May 31, 2005.
CBI had failed on two occasions in its attempt to get Quattrocchi extradited-- first from Malaysia in 2003 and then from Argentina in 2007.
CBI had later asked the Interpol to take Quattrocchi's name off the Red Corner Notice list in November last year.
This was done following a communication from CBI on the basis of the opinion of the then Attorney General Milon K Banerji, who was approached by the agency last year for his view on whether Quattrocchi's name should continue in the list.