A Delhi Court Thursday dismissed the plea of Christian Michel, alleged middleman arrested in the AgustaWestland chopper scam who sought 7-day interim bail to celebrate Easter with family, noting that he may tamper with evidence and abscond if released.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar refused to grant the relief to Michel and said there are serious allegations against him of grave economic offence.
“As per Enforcement Directorate, investigation on certain crucial aspects is still going on and the accused has a close link to many influential persons and accused may tamper with evidence and may abscond.
“Thus, considering the overall facts and circumstances, I do not find new ground for admitting the accused to interim bail. The application is dismissed,” the judge said.
The court also noted the submission of the counsel appearing for Michel who told the court that there is no medical emergency and he is seeking interim bail for general medical check-up of accused.
“There is dispensary inside the jail which takes care of the medical condition of the inmates and they are referred to different hospitals by jail authorities as and when required. It is also noted that the jail authorities are admittedly allowing an accused legal interview with his lawyers, as per jail rules,” the court noted.
Special Public Prosecutor DP Singh, appearing for the CBI and the ED, opposed Michel’s plea saying that India is a country of many festivals and thousands of prisoners have faith in various religions.
The accused, therefore, can’t be allowed to go out of jail to celebrate festivals.
Singh said Michel can participate in Easter in the custody.
He further argued that if Michel comes out on interim bail and makes some statement relating to the case, it would derail investigation.
Michel’s lawyer argued that since the charge sheet has been filed, there is no point of tampering evidence. He said the accused is cooperating in the case.
“Being a Christian, he was not even allowed to offer a holy mass even during Christmas…,” said the application moved by the accused.
“It is submitted that the week commencing from 14th April to 21st April is a holy week for Christians and 21st April is Easter which will be celebrated universally. The petitioner wishes to attend the holy mass on Easter day and would like to make offerings during the Easter day,” Michel said in his plea.
The Enforcement Directorate filed a supplementary charge sheet against Michel and others on April 4. He was arrested by ED on December 22 after his extradition from Dubai.
He is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the chopper scam by ED and Central Bureau of Investigation. Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa are the two others.
The agency had told the court that Michel made 24.25 million euros and 1,60,96,245 pounds from the AgustaWestland deal.
ED has told the court that it identified Michel’s properties purchased with proceeds of the crime.
CBI has alleged that the deal signed in February 2010 to supply VVIP choppers, worth 556.262 million euros, caused an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore).
On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italy-based Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks.
The CBI on September 1, 2017, had filed a charge sheet in the case in which Michel was named as one of the accused.