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The Court of Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar today refused to grant anticipatory bail to Ratul Puri in connection with money laundering in the AgustaWestland case.
Puri is the nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Kamal Nath.
While dismissing Ratul Puri’s anticipatory bail plea, Judge Kumar observed,
“..keeping in view the fact that the investigation, in the matter at hand, is at a crucial stage especially with regard the role played by the accused/applicant Ratul Puri coupled with the evidence collected so far by ED and considering the serious nature of the allegations, gravity of the offence and alleged conduct of the accused, i do not consider it to be a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail.”
The role of Ratul Puri in the AgustaWestland case surfaced after the deportation of Rajiv Saxena and Sushen Mohan Gupta from Dubai earlier this year. The Court recorded that there was incriminating evidence against Puri, including the diary of Sushen Mohan Gupta and email recovered from Rajiv Saxena which showed that Puri was in receipt of proceeds of crime in the AgustaWestland deal.
It is thus the Enforcement Directorate’s claim that Puri is a key link to unearth the modus operandi adopted by all other accused persons to settle the proceeds of crime. It was alleged that the Puri used the guise of shell companies to accumulate the proceeds of crime which were then parked and laundered to other desired beneficiaries.
Puri had applied for anticipatory bail before the CBI Court on July 27 after he reportedly “escaped” from the ED office a day before on the pretext of using the restroom. He was before the ED officials in connection with the ongoing AgustaWestland probe.
Puri had sought an anticipatory bail on the ground that his name had not appeared in either of the four chargesheets filed in the case till date and that even CBI had not named his as an accused in the case.
Claiming that all the allegations against him were false, Puri also argued that he was extending his full-cooperation in the investigation and there was no chance of him tampering the evidence or fleeing the country.
The ED, on the other hand, placed evidence against Puri on record and highlighted his conduct. ED claimed that Puri had been influencing and pressurizing witnesses in the case, including the approver, Rajiv Saxena.
The ED had thus prayed for the dismissal of Puri’s anticipatory bail.
Apart from dismissing the anticipatory bail plea, the Court also dismissed Puri’s application for supply of a copy of ECIR registered in the case before the Court ruled in his anticipatory bail plea on the ground that his application for inspection of judicial record had already been granted and no prejudice was caused to him.
Puri was represented by Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Advocate Vijay Aggarwal.
ED was represented by Special Public Prosecutors DP Singh and NK Matta with Advocate Manu Mishra.