NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the interim bail plea filed by alleged middleman Christian Michel James in the AgustaWestland case .
Michel, aged 59, in his bail application had cited his age and history of bad health as reasons for seeking bail, claiming he could contract the coronavirus infection in prison.
The plea was heard by a two-judge bench of Justices SK Kaul and BR Gavai through video-conferencing.
The application refers to the recent SC direction, which had asked each state/union territory 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." This order was passed to curtail the spread of covid-19 in prisons, which are over crowded.
“...Health condition of the applicant herein is very critical and incompatible with the current prison status, especially to date with the risk of contracting the covid-19 infection, which could have a lethal effect on the applicant who is already suffering from serious pathologies," the plea filed by Michel read.
“Applicant herein must be constantly monitored and treated and needs to live in an environment which facilitates the same, such as the home, where the risk of contagion is lesser and social distancing can be effectively practiced," the plea said.
Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the VVIP chopper case. 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 UPA government was in power. India is investigating charges that Christian Michel allegedly organised 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. He had made use of his technical and operational knowledge of the aircraft, and the military bases and the pilots, to land the job.
Michael had moved the Supreme Court after the Delhi high court dismissed his bail plea on the grounds that his apprehension of exposure to covid-19 in prison was “unfounded".