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A Special CBI Court on Saturday allowed the Enforcement Directorate to interrogate AgustaWestland accused, Christian Michel in Tihar Jai.
(23.05.2020 Order on Directorate of Enforcement vs Gautam Khaitan & Ors. 2.20 p.m.)
The Court also allowed Michel's counsel to meet him and provide him with necessary legal assistance and advise.
The order was passed by Special Judge Pulastaya Pramachala after the matter was heard through video-conferencing.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had moved an application moved under Section50(2) and 50(3) of The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, seeking permission to examine and record the statement of Michael.
It was submitted that the investigation was at a crucial stage and certain aspects of the case had recently been unearthed. Thus, it was necessary to interrogate the accused and to record his statement, while confronting him with the documents/data received by the ED, it was said.
While the ED asserted that there was no need to serve the notice of the application upon the accused because the matter was essentially between the complainant and the court, the Court asked that the counsel for accused be informed.
The hearing was resumed after the counsel for Michel also joined the proceedings.
The Court ultimately ordered,
The ED officials can meet Michel on May 25 and May 26 from 10.00 AM to 1.30 PM and from 2.30 PM to 5.00 PM, in the presence of Jail Superintendent or his authorized official.
In order to ensure the rights of the accused, the Court further directed,
"..a duly appointed counsel of the accused shall be permitted to meet the accused, so as to provide him necessary legal assistance and advice during 2.00 P.M. to 2.30 P.M. on 25/05/2020 and 26/05/2020. During legal assistance being provided to the accused, ED officials shall not be present there and during interrogation of the accused, his counsel shall not be present there."
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, 2018 and sent to CBI custody. On December 22, 2018, he was sent to seven days’ ED custody by the CBI Court.
Christian Michel was finally sent to judicial custody on January 5, 2019 and remained in Tihar Jail ever since. His application seeking regular bail is presently pending before the Delhi High Court.
His plea seeking interim bail on account of COVID-19 was recently disssmed by the Delhi High Court.
Special Public Prosecutor NK Matta represented ED.
Advocate Aljo K Joseph represented Michel.
Read the Orders: