Court seeks report on leaked charge sheet in Agusta case
A Delhi court on Saturday admitted a supplementary charge sheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in which Christian Michel, the suspected principal middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, is cited as admitting he had paid kickbacks to politicians, civil servants and defence officials to secure the contract.
Special CBI judge Arvind Kumar, however, asked the ED to explain how the charge sheet had been leaked to the media even before he could take it up. He asked the ED to file a status report on it by April 11. The court issued summons to David Syms, a long-time business partner of Michel, and the two companies - Global Services FZE, Dubai and Global Trade and Commerce Ltd, London -- they ran together to appear before it on May 9. Syms was named as an “accused” .
Michel’s lawyers had on Friday moved the court, alleging that the charge sheet had been “clandestinely” leaked to the media before the court could take cognizance of it. Special public prosecutor for the ED, DP Singh, said a notice should be issued to Republic television channel for displaying the charge sheet on Thursday night.
The court, however, declined to issue a notice to the channel.
A political storm erupted on Friday over the leak, with PM Narendra Modi saying that Michel had named senior Congress leaders including the Gandhi family among the people to whom he paid bribes. He said Michel had confessed that he paid money to “one AP and FAM,” and went on to allege that AP stood for senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and FAM for family . The Congress dismissed the charge sheet as a “cheap election stunt” and filed a complaint against the BJP for making the allegation. Patel denied the allegation. Michel claimed he named no names. The latest charge sheet, filed on April 4, alleges that bribes worth 70 million euros were paid to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.
The court extended the police remand of Sushen Gupta, an accused in the case by two days.