07 September 2019
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday dismissed the bail pleas filed by AgustaWestland deal alleged middleman Christian Michel James in both the CBI and ED cases against him pertaining to the deal.
Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar turning down the pleas, said, "Considering the overall facts and circumstances, serious nature of accusations, gravity of offence, crucial stage of investigation and aforesaid conduct of the accused, I do not consider it to be a fit case for grant of bail."
"The accused is a British national, having no roots in India. It is noted that NBWs were issued against him...it is not that the accused had himself joined investigation in India or appeared before this court of his own," the court observed.
The court further held that Michel "cannot claim parity with other accused persons in view of his aforesaid conduct".
Judge Kumar reserved his order for September 7 after the conclusion of arguments from both sides.
During the course of hearing, Michel's counsel Aljo K. Joseph argued that the role of his client, which has been narrated in the prosecution complaint, is that Michel got kickbacks and gave it to the Tyagi brothers.
"The prosecution said that I have taken money through hawala channels although there is no details of this claim in the prosecution complaint," Joseph said.
Michel through his counsel further told the court that both the agencies have already interrogated him for more than 600 hours.
Opposing the claims of the defence, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) D.P. Singh informed the court: "I couldn't reach the figure of 600 hours even after including the time he took for sleeping, going to the doctor and other things."
He said Michel was brought to India after due extradition proceedings and has been in custody thereafter.
Singh said, "I'm trying to show that he did everything to influence the deal."
Concluding its arguments, the prosecution said, "He is one of the two kingpins. The other, Guido Haschke, is on the run. We are at the final stage. We want to start trial in the next four months. Looking into the gravity of charges against him and his propensity to influence and tamper, he cannot be granted the liberty of bail."
Making his final submissions, the defence counsel said, "With regard to parity, the lordship has granted bail to all. I have undergone custodial interrogation. The investigation is complete, so tampering with the evidence cannot arise as the documents are intact as said by the prosecution."
On Wednesday, the CBI told the court that it would file a supplementary charge sheet in connection with its probe into the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.
"A supplementary charge sheet on the basis of investigation conducted so far is in the process of being filed," said CBI in its reply.
In his bail plea, Michel has stated that the investigation regarding him was over and that no useful purpose would be served by keeping him in further custody. He said he would be available to join the probe as and when required.
Michel was taken into custody by the CBI on December 5, 2018 after his extradition from Dubai, while the ED took him into custody on December 22, 2018.
He is in judicial custody in both the cases. Michel, Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa are the three alleged middlemen being probed in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper scam by the two central agencies.