The Delhi high court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath’s nephew and Hindustan Power Projects Pvt. Ltd chairman Ratul Puri in a money-laundering case related to the VVIP chopper scam.
The court said his custodial interrogation was “required for an effective investigation" as he was evasive in his replies during questioning by the investigating agency.
“This court is of the prima facie opinion that custodial interrogation of petitioner (Puri) is required for an effective investigation...Upon considering this case in entirety, this court finds that grant of pre-arrest bail to the petitioner would stall the effective investigation in the case," the court said, adding: “Mere attachment of his property in income tax proceedings would not justify grant of pre-arrest bail to him."
Puri, in his plea had challenged the 6 August order of a special court, which had dismissed his anticipatory bail application. In a statement issued by Hindustan Powerprojects, Puri’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal said: “Irregularities galore while arresting Ratul Puri. From a non-existent case diary, to using evidence produced in the Agusta Westland case (for which my client has no coercive action), access to lawyer denied and no information given to a friend of the arrested. Prosecution over stepped its powers."
On 9 August, the trial court had issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Puri on a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate. The investigating agency also arrested Puri on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in another bank loan fraud case.
In January 2014, India had scrapped a contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary, AgustaWestland, for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks worth ₹423 crore to secure the deal. Puri was summoned by the ED after he was named by the middlemen, Rajiv Saxena and Sushen Mohan Gupta, in the chopper scam.
Puri had appeared before the ED for questioning in a case pertaining to the now scrapped ₹3,600 crore chopper deal with AgustaWestland.
Mint reported on 11 August that the Income Tax Department had attached an ₹300 crore bungalow in the capital city in a probe against Hindustan Power Projects Pvt. Ltd. Chairman Ratul Puri who is one of the persons named in the AgustaWestland chopper scam. The department had also attached investments worth about $40 billion as part of the probe, under anti-benami law. Puri is the nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
Reacting to Puri’s arrest on Monday night by the Enforcement Directorate, Kamal Nath said, “I have no connection with their (Puri’s) business. But, I think the arrest appears to be an action take with malicious intention..It is sad that all the agencies are being misused for political purpose," PTI reported from Bhopal quoting Nath.