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[Agusta Westland Case] 'Not Having Deep Rooted Connections In India Cannot Be Ground To Deny Bail': Christian Michel Tells Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
2 Dec 2021 9:14 AM GMT
[Agusta Westland Case] Not Having Deep Rooted Connections In India Cannot Be Ground To Deny Bail: Christian Michel Tells Delhi High Court
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Christian Michel, accused in connection with Augusta Westland case, seeking bail in the matter has told the Delhi High Court that mere fact of not having deep rooted connections in India cannot be a ground for the Trial Court to deny him bail. Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri was hearing the bail plea filed by Michel in the case registered against him by the CBI. Advocate Aljo K Joseph appearing...

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Christian Michel, accused in connection with Augusta Westland case, seeking bail in the matter has told the Delhi High Court that mere fact of not having deep rooted connections in India cannot be a ground for the Trial Court to deny him bail.

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri was hearing the bail plea filed by Michel in the case registered against him by the CBI.

Advocate Aljo K Joseph appearing for Michel argued before the Court that while all the other accused persons arrested in the matter have been released on bail, only he has been denied the grant of bail for the sole reason that he did not have deep roots in the society and was not an Indian citizen.

"This cannot be a criteria that I do not have deep roots in the society therefore I cannot get bail. It is my responsibility and duty to prove my innocence after three years of pre trial detention. The investigation in the matter has been going on since last 8 years which we don't know when it is likely to conclude, both by CBI and ED," Joseph added.

Joseph also took the Court through the timelines dating back to the extradition proceedings by submitting that Michel was arrested and detained in Dubai jail for more than 100 days after which he was brought to India on 4th December 2018.

"I was deported and brought to India. I have completed now 3 years in judicial custody," he added.

He also apprised the Court about the intervention of United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group. According to Joseph, the Working Group had concluded that the deprivation of liberty of Christian Michel by the Government of India was in violation of human rights principles enumerated in various International Covenants.

He further informed the Court that the Group had request the Government to take necessary steps and also to consider releasing Michel immediately.

Furthermore, the Court was also informed that the offences under Prevention of Corruption Act, namely sec. 8, 9 and 12 were the only substantive offences alleged to have been committed by Michel having a maximum punishment of 5 years.

"The offences as alleged to be committed were from over a period of time from 2004 till 2010. FIR was registered in 2013. The entire offences under Prevention of Corruption Act as it stood in 2010 or before, the maximum punishment would be 5 years as per allegations in the chargesheet," he added.

The matter will now be heard on December 8.  Sriram Parakkat and MS Vishnu Shankar are the other lawyers representing Michel in this proceeding.

The Court had in July sought response of the CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the bail pleas filed by Michel.

The move came after a Delhi Court had rejected his bail plea. Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar turned down the bail plea after observing that "No case is made out for grant of bail on medical ground."

"The accused is a British National, having no roots in India. It is noted that NBWs were issued against accused on 24.09.2015 and the accused was arrested in Dubai and thereafter was extradited to India on 04.12.2018. It is not that the accused had himself joined investigation in India or appeared before this Court, of his own. The accused also did not join investigation in Italy. Thus the accused is a flight risk. The accused cannot claim parity with other accused persons in view of his aforesaid conduct," the Court had said.

In the plea, Michel had stated that he was illegality taken to custody by the Government of India and the executing agency CBI and deported from Dubai on 4th December 2018 and thereafter produced before the Court.

"The deprivation of liberty of Christian James Michel by the government of India, being in contravention of articles 3, 9, 10 and 11 (1) of the universal declaration of human rights and articles 9 (3); 10 (1); and 14 (1)–(2) and (3) (b)–(d) and (g) of the international covenant on civil and political rights," the plea read.

However, turning down the bail plea, the Special Court had ordered thus:

"Thus considering the overall facts and circumstances, serious nature of accusations, gravity of offence and aforesaid conduct of the accused, I do not consider it to be a fit case for grant of bail. Application for bail filed by accused is, thus, dismissed."

The charge-sheet against Michel was filed in 2017 after which he was arrested in December 2018 after being extradited from Dubai. He is allegedly termed as a 'Middleman' for the illegal transactions that took place in the VVIP chopper scam.

The CBI had alleged that there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (about 2666 Crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had then filed a chargesheet against Mr. Michel in June, 2016, alleging that he had received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from Agusta Westland. 

Title: Christian Michel v. CBI, ED

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