NEW DELHI :
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on the petition of Tihar Jail against a trial court’s order which had allowed Christian Michel the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case to speak on phone for 15 minutes against the allotted time of 10 minutes. Justice Mukta Gupta also issued a production warrant on Wednesday for Christian Michel’s presence in the court for August 21.
India is investigating charges that Christian Michel organized bribes to push a ₹3,600-crore contract for the helicopters. Before Michel emerged as a key player in the AgustaWestland deal, he had served as a “historic consultant" to AgustaWestland and Westland Helicopters in the UK. He had made use of his technical and operational knowledge of the aircraft, and the military bases and the pilots, to land the job.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Wednesday extended the interim protection from arrest of Hindustan Power Projects Pvt. Ltd chairman Ratul Puri who is the nephew of Madhya Pradesh chief minister and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath for another day till August 1 as the hearing on his anticipatory bail in connection with the AgustaWestland case could not be completed.
Ratul Puri had on July 27 moved the special court seeking anticipatory bail in the case as he feared that he’ll get arrested.
Ratul Puri recently appeared before Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in the case pertaining to the now scrapped Rs3,600 crore chopper deals with AgustaWestland. Ratul Puri was summoned by the probe agency after he was named by Rajiv Saxena and Sushen Mohan Gupta, another alleged middleman in the chopper scam.
In another development in the case, the Income Tax Department has unearthed fresh evidence in the VVIP choppers scam case after raiding a Hyderabad-based group which had purported dealings with Dubai-based accused in the case, Rajiv Saxena, the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) said on Wednesday, PTI reported.
It said in a statement that tax sleuths searched on July 24 the premises of a business group engaged in conducting seismic data analysis and four undisclosed foreign bank accounts, three un-reported companies based in tax havens, and unexplained cash of Rs45 lakh and jewellery worth Rs3.1 crore were recovered.
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 UPA government was in power.