AgustaWestland: Christian Michel alleges interference by CBI, ED during Consular Access; Court seeks report from Tihar Jail authorities

AgustaWestland: Christian Michel alleges interference by CBI, ED during Consular Access; Court seeks report from Tihar Jail authorities

Aditi Singh

Alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland deal, Christian Michel has filed an application before the CBI Court alleging interference by CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials during Consular access when British High Commission officials went to meet Michel in Tihar jail.

A Special CBI Court today sought a report from Tihar Jail authorities in connection with the same. Michel is represented by Advocates Aljo K Joseph, Sriram Parakkat and Vishnu Shankar.

As alleged in an application moved before the CBI Court presided over by Judge Arvind Kumar, the CBI and ED Officials had visited him at the same time as the visit of British consular who was due to meet him.

It is further alleged that during the consular visit, ED and CBI officials “tried to interfere with the entire process and they checked all the articles which were carried by the Consular and tried to talk to Christian Michel James..”

Emphasizing on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, Michel has submitted that once consular access is approved, the consular officer must be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State and have access to them and vice versa.

However, the consular visit was allowed to Michel after 4-5 requests and the same is in violation of the Convention. Moreover, it was interrupted by CBI and ED officials, it has been alleged.

It was further submitted that when in judicial custody, it is the prerogative of the Court to permit an investigating agency to visit an accused for any reason in Jail.

Since no permission to visit Michel was sought in the present case, it is argued that the ED and CBI officials visiting him in Jail was illegal.

Michel has also cited the example of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case when India had approached the International Court of Justice against denial of consular access by Pakistan, an act which was held by the ICJ to be violative of Article 36 of Vienna convention.

Michel has thus sought an inquiry into the incident.

Christian Michel is accused of having entered into as many as twelve contracts with AgustaWestland to legitimize the illicit commission/kickbacks amounting to 42.27 Euro million received on the procurement of VVIP helicopters by the Government of India.

After being extradited to India from Dubai, Michel was produced before the CBI Court on December 5 and sent to CBI custody. On December 22, he was sent to seven days’ ED custody by the CBI Court.

Christian Michel was finally sent to judicial custody on January 5 and remained in Tihar Jail ever since.

Michel’s bail plea is currently pending with the Delhi High Court.

The matter would be heard next on November 18.

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