AgustaWestland scam accused cites Covid-19 risk in bail plea, SC declines
The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to grant bail to AgustaWestland scam accused Christian Michel, who had sought release from Tihar jail citing health risk posed due to Covid-19 pandemic.
A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and BR Gavai upheld the decision of the Delhi high court which had, on April 7, refused to grant bail to the accused.
Michel, 59, had prayed for interim bail stating that the Covid-19 pandemic posed a grave risk to him considering his age.
He had submitted that on account of his advanced age and a history of bad health, he was more susceptible to coronavirus infection than a prisoner with normal health.
Michel had relied upon an order passed by the Supreme Court on March 16 directing the states and union territories to take steps to avoid spread of Covid-19 in prisons. Subsequently, the top court had on March 23 directed the states and UTs to set up high powered committees to determine which class of prisoners that can be released on parole or interim bail.
The apex court on Wednesday noted that Michel did not qualify for release as per the criteria prescribed by the committee.
Michel, who is being probed for his role in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, was extradited to India from Dubai on December 4, 2018, and was taken into custody by the CBI on December 5.
Subsequently, he was arrested by the Enforcement Diractorate (ED) on December 22, 2018 on money laundering charges. He was later sent sent in judicial custody.
Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the investigating agencies. The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
The AgustaWestland scam relates to the purchase of 12 helicopters for use by VVIPs in India. It is alleged that Michel, acting as middleman, secured the deal for AgustaWestland Company by paying kickbacks to Indian politicians and officials.