A top court committee bars foreign nationals, prisoners involved in more than one case and cases under PMLA from availing interim bail
NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has dismissed the interim bail plea filed by alleged middleman Christian Michel in the AgustaWestland case.
"As regards the apprehension of the petitioner being infected by covid-19 pandemic, it may be noted that the petitioner is lodged in separate cell with only two other prisoners and thus, is not in a barrack or dormitory where there are number of prisons. It is not the case of the petitioner that any of the two inmates residing with him are suffering from covid-19 pandemic. Hence, the apprehension of the petitioner also because of the vulnerable age and overcrowding in jail that he is likely to contact covid-19 which may be detrimental to his health, is unfounded," the order said.
"Hence, at this stage, release of the petitioner even on interim bail is not warranted. Further this would be ground to be considered during the hearing in regular bails. Hence, this court is not inclined to grant interim bail to the petitioner," it added.
A high powered case committee of apex court bars foreign nationals, prisoners involved in more than one case and cases under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) from availing interim bail.
The high court order added inmates of Tihar Jail have been screened for covid-19 and none has tested positive till date. Also, prisoners now being arrested are also screened before being admitted and are lodged separately.
The emphasised that Michel despite being a British national had to be extradited from Dubai after an inquiry. "The petitioner is thus a flight risk and also has no roots in the society."
Michel had sought interim bail citing coronavirus threat. The hearing took place through video-conferencing.
The top court had asked Michel last week to approach high court on this.
The bail application referred to a recent Supreme Court direction which had directed states/union territories to constitute a high powered committee "to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate." The order was passed to curb the spread of covid-19 in prisons which are overcrowded.
Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by investigating agencies. The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
The AgustaWestland case refers to a deal for 12 luxury choppers for use by the president, prime minister and other VIPs when the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power. India is investigating charges that Michel allegedly organized bribes to push a ₹3,600-crore contract for the helicopters.
Before Michel emerged as an alleged key player in the AgustaWestland deal, he had served as a “historic consultant" to AgustaWestland and Westland Helicopters in the UK.
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