AgustaWestland: Delhi Court reserves order in bail plea by Christian Michel

AgustaWestland: Delhi Court reserves order in bail plea by Christian Michel

Aditi Singh

Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar today reserved the order in the bail pleas moved by British businessman and alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case, Christian Michel.

The order is likely to be pronounced by the Court on September 7.

In his applications filed through advocates Aljo K Joseph, Sriram Parakkat and Vishnu Shankar, Michel had submitted that he had undergone almost 600 hours of custodial interrogation by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and had spent 375 days in custody, including the 254 days spent in an Indian jail.

However, to date, no particular material had been produced before the Court to substantiate the allegations levelled against Michel, it was claimed.

Therefore, arguing that the investigation against him was over and no useful purpose would be served by keeping him in further incarceration, Michel sought bail under Section 437/439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Michel’s bail plea was opposed by the CBI and the ED. The agencies, represented by Special Public Prosecutor DP Singh, argued that Christain Michel was the “key link to unearth the modus operandi” in the AgustaWestland case.

Stating that Michel was a British national having no roots on India, the agencies apprehended that if released on bail, Michel would flee from the country and would not be available for investigation/trial.

The agencies informed the Court that the investigation in the case was at a crucial stage and releasing the accused at this stage could result in him tampering with evidence or evading the process of law.

The ED added that Michel has remained evasive and non-cooperative during the investigation. Iterating that the investigation to ascertain the money trail was ongoing, the ED claimed that Michel was required to be confronted with certain witnesses/suspects to take the investigation to its end. ED also informed the Court that it has received “volumious” documents from several countries in response to the letters of rogatory sent out in the case.

The CBI also informed the Court that it would be filing a supplementary chargesheet in the case.

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 for five days. On subsequent hearings, the custody was extended for another five days, and then for four more daysOn December 22, he was sent to seven days’ ED custody by the CBI Court.

Christian Michel was sent to judicial custody on January 5.

Earlier, the Court had dismissed Michel’s bail plea on two occasions, in February and. in December last year.

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