The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to take any “coercive steps” till next Tuesday against Ratul Puri, who apprehends arrest in a case for allegedly receiving kickbacks in the AgustaWestland chopper deal case through his companies.
Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, moved the High Court after a special court, on August 6, dismissed his application for anticipatory bail.
On August 9, the special court issued non-bailable warrant against Puri after the ED moved the court, alleging that he did not join the probe and was neither accessible on the phone nor at his residence, and that his whereabouts were not known.
Appearing for Puri, senior counsel A M Singhvi and advocate Vijay Aggarwal submitted that “parameters governing grant of pre-arrest bail are of abscondance, tampering with the evidence and non-cooperation, which are ex-facie not attracted to the instant case”. He pressed for interim relief. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi and advocate Ajay Digpaul, representing the ED, opposed this and pointed out that a non-bailable warrant has been issued against the petitioner since he is absconding.
To this, Puri’s counsels argued that he is not absconding, and that he could not join the investigation on only one date. They submitted that the ED had been informed about this.
Singhvi also said that Puri is ready to join the probe as and when called, provided interim protection is granted.
Justice Gaur said, “In the peculiarity of this case, it is deemed appropriate to call upon respondent (ED) not to take any coercive steps against the petitioner (Puri), with liberty to the respondent to direct petitioner to join further investigation, if required”.
While listing the matter for August 20, to hear remaining arguments on Puri’s plea challenging the trial court’s order denying him anticipatory bail, Justice Gaur also asked the ED to file a status report apprising it on developments in the money laundering case in the deal.
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