Two days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed its chargesheet in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, maintaining that kickbacks were paid to defence officials, bureaucrats, mediapersons and important political persons of the then ruling party, the agency on Saturday told a special court that it will confront alleged defence agent Sushen Mohan Gupta with Ratul Puri, who the agency calls a suspect in the money laundering case.
Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, had appeared before the agency for questioning after being issued summons to join the probe. The ED said Puri has been “evasive” in his replies.
Seeking two more days of custody for Sushen Gupta for his custodial interrogation, ED’s counsels D P Singh and N K Matta told Special Judge Arvind Kumar, “Ratul Puri was confronted with Sushen, but they have not disclosed anything so far. We need to confront the two again.”
The judge sent Gupta to two-day ED custody and directed the agency to produce him before the court on April 8.
At this, senior advocate P V Kapur, representing Gupta, asked what is client’s fault if Puri was not coming for interrogation. “Let him be sent to judicial custody. He can be confronted with any data or any person the ED wants from there,” Kapur argued.
Gupta was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on March 23 and is in ED’s custody since then.
Gupta has moved a bail application on the ground that he has cooperated in the probe and also undertaken to cooperate further. The judge sought ED’s reply on this by April 9.
ED, Michel seek probe into Agusta chargesheet content leak
On middleman Christian Michel James’s plea for a “free and fair trial” since, he alleged, the agency had leaked details of its fourth supplementary chargesheet to the media before sharing it with him, Special Judge Kumar said the court will consider it on April 11, when the agency replies on this aspect.
The agency urged the court to issue notice also to news channel Republic in the issue and ask the channel where it got the news, and who leaked it to them.
Expressing concern over contents of the chargesheet being leaked before it was considered by the court or given to the accused, the ED argued that Michel’s application was “not maintainable”. The ED also objected to Michel’s counsel Aljo K Joseph’s contention that no one should discuss contents of the chargesheet from now. “This court has no power to pass such orders. It (that power) lies with the superior courts,” Singh argued.
Referring to Joseph’s earlier statement before court that Michel never named anyone during interrogation, Singh said, “How does he know, without having the entire chargesheet (and) statements made in the chargesheet? How do they know what was said? The petition is not maintainable.”
The ED’s counsel also submitted documents in a sealed envelope to the court. The documents details preliminary inquiry into the chargesheet leak case.
Joseph also urged the court to issue notice to the channel in connection with the leak.
Brushing aside his demand, the special judge directed ED to file a reply to the application as well as a status report. “Who has leaked the chargesheet? There should be an inquiry,” the court observed. “Let them (ED) file their reply by April 11 how it (contents of chargesheet) got leaked. We will issue notice (to Republic) after considering the entire matter.”
The court also took cognizance of fourth supplementary chargesheet and issued summons for May 9 to Michel’s alleged business partner David Nigel John Syms and two firms owned by them: Global Trade and Commerce Limited, and Global Services FZE, UAE.
The chargesheet, filed on April 4, added three new names to the list of accused – with this, 41 individuals and firms stand accused to 41 in the case.
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