CBI Court directs appearance of Tihar Jail authorities in Christian Michel’s plea against confinement in high-security cell

CBI Court directs appearance of Tihar Jail authorities in Christian Michel’s plea against confinement in high-security cell

Aditi Singh

The Special CBI Court today directed the Director General (DG), Prisons and Tihar Jail Superintendent to appear before it pursuant to an application by Christian Michel against his confinement in a high-security cell.

Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case, was sent to judicial custody by CBI Judge Arvind Kumar on January 5.

The application filed through Advocates Sriram Parakkat, Vishnu Shankar and Aljo K Joseph claims that Michel has been shifted to the high-security cell “at the behest of external pressure“, which ultimately amounts to punishment and mental torture.

Stating that Michel’s liberty is completely curtailed by the jail authority without any reason, the application reads, 

“…the high security cell in jail number 2 is a completely open shelf with different cages. There are two police guards always watching the applicant 24 hours. He is neither allowed to either interact nor walk around in the prison…The toilets in the high-security jail are open ones and the guards will take the applicant to that area to attend his natural calls…In true sense, he is spending his days just by watching the cells and the walls which itself is sufficient to destabilize the mental balance of the accused.”

It is further submitted that since the Jail No. 2 is demarcated for lodging offenders who are either convicted for more than 10 years or accused of offences punishable under the National Security Act, 1980 and the Public Safety Act, 1978, keeping Michel in it could not be sustained in law.

The application places reliance on the DG Prison’s report on his shifting to a high-security cell, which states that “no proper reason was given by the officials” to keep him in a high-security jail in solitary confinement and isolation.

The application thus seeks a judicial enquiry as to why Michel was shifted to Jail No. 2 in a high-security cell without recording any reasons.

Christian Michel is accused of having entered into as many as 12 contracts with AgustaWestland to legitimize the illicit commission/kickbacks amounting to Euro 42.27 million received on the procurement of VVIP helicopters by Government of India. Consequently, the ED also initiated proceedings in terms of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 against Michel.

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 days. On December 22, he was sent to seven days’ ED custody by the CBI Court.

The matter will be next heard on March 5.

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