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Amendment To S.45 PMLA Cannot Be Applied Retrospectively: Christian Michel Seeks Bail In VVIP Copper Scam

Akshita Saxena
14 Feb 2022 1:39 PM GMT
Amendment To S.45 PMLA Cannot Be Applied Retrospectively: Christian Michel Seeks Bail In VVIP Copper Scam
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Seeking bail in the alleged money laundering case in the VVIP Chopper Scam, middleman Christian Michel today assured the Delhi High Court that he will cooperate in the investigations being carried out against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.Advocate Aljo K Joseph, appearing for Michel, further submitted before the Bench of Justice Manoj Ohri that...

Seeking bail in the alleged money laundering case in the VVIP Chopper Scam, middleman Christian Michel today assured the Delhi High Court that he will cooperate in the investigations being carried out against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

Advocate Aljo K Joseph, appearing for Michel, further submitted before the Bench of Justice Manoj Ohri that rigours of bail stipulated under Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, will not apply in this case.

He submitted that the provision, having been struck off by the Supreme Court as unconstitional in 2017, was revived in December 2018 with an Amendment Act. However, the challan against Michel was filed by the agency on 10 June, 2016. Thus, there cannot be retrospective application of the 2018 Amendment Act, he argued.

Reliance was placed on Hitendra Vishnu Thakur v. State Of Maharashtra, where the Supreme Court had considered the aspect of retrospectivity with respect to amendments in the TADA Act. It was observed therein that a statute which not only changes the procedure but also creates new rights and liabilities shall be construed to be prospective in operation, unless otherwise provided, either expressly or by necessary implication.

The Top Court had finally held that that Amendment Act in question is retrospective in operation to the cases which were pending investigation on the date when the amendment came into force with and in which the challan had not been filed till then.

Thus, it was applicant's case that challan has been filed in his case and hence, the amendment to Section 45 of the Act which imposes rigours on grant of bail will not be applicable. "Provision can be retrospective, but for cases where challan is not filed. In my case, challan was filed long back by ED and CBI," Joseph argued.

Further, addressing the apprehensions raised by the CBI regarding the British government helping Michel to escape, Joseph made an oral submission the the counsel to British High Commission has assured that they will write to the Ministry of External Affairs, clarifying that no travel document will be issued to Michel without court's approval. Presently, his passport is in CBI's custody.

The Court has permitted Joseph, to file a short note of his submissions. ED has been granted liberty to file a reply to the said note.

The bench also heard the objections raised by CBI counsel DP Singh.

The matter was adjourned to February 18, citing unavailability of the ASG.

On the previous hearing, ASG SV Raju for ED had argued that rigours on grant of bail under PMLA will apply in this case. The ASG had submitted that the amendment was introduced on 19th April, 2018 whereas Michel was arrested on 22nd December, 2018. Hence, the question of retrospective application does not apply. Nevertheless, ASG added, if the Court holds this to be a retrospective application, procedural law can apply retrospectively.

VVIP Chopper Scam | Constitutional Presumption In Favor Of 2018 Amendment To S.45 PMLA, Rigours Of Bail Apply: ED Opposes Christian Michel's Plea In Delhi HC

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.

Read previous reports:

[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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