Fri, 24 Mar 2023

New Delhi [India], March 14 (ANI): The Rouse Avenue Court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of British citizen Christian Michel, accused in the Agusta Westland VVIP chopper scam which is being investigated by the CBI.

Noting that the allegations against the accused are "serious" in nature, Special Judge Arvind Kumar on Tuesday said, "Considering the overall facts and circumstances, serious nature of accusations, the gravity of offence and 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."During arguments, the Counsel for Christian Michel contended that the accused is entitled to be released on bail on grounds of parity as all other co-accused are on bail.

The CBI has filed a chargesheet and a summons has already been issued to the accused persons.

The court also noted that the investigation on some aspects is pending.

The CBI has apprehension that the accused, being highly linked may influence the witness to be examined and may tamper with evidence.

The accused is a British National and has no roots in India.

It was also noted that NBWs were issued against the accused on September 24 in 2015 and thereafter Red Corner Notice on November 25 in 2015 was issued against the accused who was arrested in Dubai and thereafter was extradited to India on December 4 in 2018.

The court further said that the accused is a "flight risk" as he himself had not appeared before this Court of his own and did not join the investigation in Italy also.

"The accused cannot claim parity with other accused persons in view of his aforesaid conduct," the court added.

Recently, the Supreme Court had rejected the Christian Michel bail plea.

Michel had approached the apex court for bail in the cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam being probed by the agencies.

Advocate DP Singh, counsel for CBI contended that the primary purpose of bail is to secure the presence of the accused and to protect the sanctity of investigation while taking into account the natureand gravity of the offence and the role played by the accused. He is a key link to unearthing the modus operandi and his release on bail would not only adversely affect further investigation which isalmost at the last stage but also stall the judicial process. While personal liberty is paramount, the same is subject to reasonable restrictions, including the interest of the state and the public.

Earlier, the trial court had rejected his bail plea and had shown its displeasure with the British High Commission for sending a letter addressed to it stating that the medical condition of Michel and his pre-trial detention of two and half years may be taken into account when his bail application is considered.

Christian Michel James was extradited in 2018 after India won the extradition case in Dubai. Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the deal, was deported from the UAE and is currently in judicial custody. The Dubai-based businessman Rajeev Saxena was extradited to India on January 31, 2019, in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore alleged scam relating to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from Agusta Westland. (ANI)

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