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The Delhi High Court today directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file their response to the bail plea filed by businessman and alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case, Christian Michel.
A Single judge Bench of Justice Anu Malhotra granted two weeks’ time to the agencies to file the same.
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.
In his regular bail plea filed through Advocates Aljo K Joseph, Sriram Parakkat, and Vishnu Shankar, Michel has claimed that Article 21 was available to non-citizens as well and thus he is entitled to the presumption of innocence like any other accused for securing his liberty.
Michel has submitted that although he does not have “deep roots” in India, he has never evaded the process of law and his intention to cooperate with the investigation is clear from his past conduct.
Further, since the case is based on evidence, which is documentary in nature, and which is already in custody of the investigating agencies, there was no question of Michel tampering it, the plea states.
Michel has also pointed out that there is no allegation that Michel attempted to tamper with evidence or influence any witness.
Michel has also argued that he was entitled to bail on the ground that the investigating agencies have failed to file the complete charge sheet within the period prescribed in Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Even in the supplementary charge sheet filed by the ED, no role is attributed to Michel, it is stated.
Bail is also sought on the grounds of parity as all the other accused in the case are already enlarged on bail.
Michel has further stated that there was no loss to the public exchequer in the AgustaWestland deal and all losses incurred by the Government of India were recovered through bank guarantees.
Michel has also informed the Court that the Italian Sessions Court, after considering all the material on record, acquitted Michel of all charges 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.
Michel’s latest bail plea was dismissed by the CBI Court in September 2019.
The matter will be heard next on November 13.