Wed, 22 Mar 2023

New Delhi [India], February 2 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing till February 7 on the bail plea of British citizen Christian Michel, accused in the Agustan Westland VVIP chopper scam.

A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud adjourned the matter for next Tuesday.

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

Counsel appearing for Michel, a United Kingdom national who was extradited from Dubai in 2018, has told the bench that Michel has spent around four years in jail after his extradition in connection with an FIR registered in 2013 for the incident which took place in 2004 till 2008.

Counsel has said that Michel had almost finished the maximum sentence of five years for the offences that he had been alleged with.

The court was told that many accused persons who were similarly placed had been granted bail by the trial court except Michel.

The bench has earlier expressed its concern over the relationship between the treaty and the statute (Extradition Act, 1962) and said the statute says he can only be tried for the offences for which he has surrendered or has been extradited and the limitation imposed by the statute cannot be removed by a treaty.

The apex court has also asked earlier, the counsel of Michel and ASG to submit a note on the issue and listed the matter.

ED has opposed the bail plea of Michel and earlier told the Supreme Court that he has tried to pass confidential papers to his counsel at the time of legal access.

It had said that further investigation in the present case is still ongoing and many crucial documents are required to be collected across jurisdictions for the purpose of the investigation therefore it is strongly apprehended that he might try to tamper the witnesses or evidence and obstruct the judicial process.

The investigating agency had told the bench that the role of Michel is clearly established and the offence of money laundering is squarely made out against him.

Michel had challenged the March 11 order of the Delhi High Court in the apex court, which had refused to grant him bail.

CBI had said that he has a flight risk and fears that because the British government is helping him, he might flee and will never return.

Michel had contended before the High Court that all the other accused in the case got bail in 60 days and he is the only one who hasn't been given bail and suffering incarnation.

According to the bail petition, Michel said that as a bail condition, he will be available to join the investigation and trial as and when required and has never sought to evade the process of law.

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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