Quattrocchi benefited by being an absconder Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi seems to stand out as a rare example of an accused who has benefited by not submitting to the jurisdiction of Indian courts. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may be right today in seeking to withdraw the Bofors case against him given the fact that those who made themselves available for trial in the case have been absolved. But the situation was not always so. The CBI had initially been pursuing the case against him in right earnest or at least it seemed to be doing so. But nothing materialised as he was absconding. The CBI got the trial court to declare the Italian businessman a fugitive - a proclaimed offender - and issued an Interpol Red Corner notice in 1997. Besides, two of his bank accounts in the UK were frozen to force him to surrender. Quattrocchi would have faced criminal proceedings like the Hinduja brothers if he had made himself available for the proceedings like them. But the case against him could not proceed beyond the charge- sheet because he had fled the country. While he remained ''wanted'' in the case, the charges against the Hindujas in the meantime were quashed by the Delhi High Court in 2005. The fact that Quattrocchi kept absconding seemed to have put him in a better position than the Hindujas who had submitted themselves to the court's jurisdiction. While the latter had to fight a considerably long legal battle before finally being absolved, Quattrocchi seems to have had an effortless win with the agency itself seeking to withdraw the case. The case against Quattrocchi, whose presence before the court could not be secured, was separated from the rest as a matter of procedure so that proceedings against others could go on. (As in the case of Abu Salem who is now facing trial in the 1993 Bombay blasts case after his extradition) The CBI probably intended to let the Bofors case die a natural death by not filing an appeal against the 2005 High Court order quashing charges against the Hindujas. The proceedings against two other accused - Dubai- based businessman Win Chadha and former Defence Secretary S K Bhatnagar - had been dropped after their death. Quattrocchi now remained the only person accused in the case. With the case pending, CBI repeatedly kept informing the trial court about its efforts to secure his presence to face trial. Though the case against the Italian businessman remained pending, the fact that he remained absconding seemed to have drifted the case in his favour with the government failing twice - in Malaysia in 2003 and in Argentina in 2007 - to get him extradited. Ironically, not submitting himself to the jurisdiction of Indian courts, did not adversely affect his prospects here also. In a controversial move, the government allowed de- freezing of his accounts in the UK in 2006 and the Red Corner Interpol notice was also withdrawn in 2008. And finally the CBI moved an application in October 2009 to withdraw the case against him. A lawyer, Ajay Agrawal, is opposing the move to close the 1990 case. The CBI, banking heavily on the 2005 Delhi High Court order quashing the case against the Hindujas, has submitted that he was the only accused left in the case and attempts at extradition had also failed. Incidentally, an appeal against that order is pending before the Supreme Court. Agrawal had challenged the order after CBI did not do so within the stipulated time. Agrawal recently got another opportunity to oppose the decision to close the case. This came after ITAT gave a finding that the Italian businessman had received a commission in the Bofors gun deal. The CBI and Agarwal are pitted against each other in the matter concerning withdrawal of the case. The case seems to have taken a bizarre turn with the CBI virtually arguing for Quattrocchi and that too before a court where they would, otherwise, have been on opposite sides.