AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam: SC asks accused Christian Michel James to move Delhi HC for interim bail
Michel, lodged in Tihar jail, has moved the top court seeking interim bail citing coronavirus scare inside the prison and cited its recent order on granting bail to undertrial prisoners to decongest prisons in view of the pandemic
New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) Wednesday asked Christian Michel James, an accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, to seek interim bail from the Delhi High Court in the case.
Michel, lodged in Tihar jail, has moved the top court seeking interim bail citing coronavirus scare inside the prison and cited its recent order on granting bail to undertrial prisoners to decongest prisons in view of the pandemic.
A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, in a hearing conducted through video conferencing, asked the accused to seek bail from the high court first.
Lawyer Aljo K Joseph, appearing for the accused, said that the bench without expressing its views on the merits, asked Michel to seek bail from the high court.
Michel, alleged middleman arrested in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam cases filed by the CBI and the ED, had earlier moved the Delhi High Court seeking interim bail citing risk of contracting coronavirus in the Tihar Jail.
He then moved the apex court seeking the same relief saying that the high court has been unable to accord hearing on his interim bail plea.
Michel, 59, has claimed that his health condition was critical and incompatible with the current prison status, especially to cope with the risk of contracting the COVID-19 infection which could have a lethal effect on him as he is already suffering from serious pathologies.
The agedness and a pre-existing ill state of health will make the applicant's (Michel) body more susceptible to the said infection than any other ordinary prisoner with a normal health condition," Michel has said in its plea.
The regular bail plea of Michel, who was arrested in 2018 and is in judicial custody since 5 January, 2019, is also pending before the high court where the CBI and the ED have contended that he should not be granted the relief as he has a nexus with influential people and can influence witnesses.
He has been denied bail in both the matters by the trial court. He has approached the high court against the lower court's decision.
The special CBI court had denied him the relief, saying there was no sufficient ground to grant bail.
Michel, extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the ED on 22 December, 2018.
On 5 January last year, he was sent to judicial custody in the ED case. He is also lodged in judicial custody in another case registered by the CBI in connection with the scam.
Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the cases filed by the ED and the CBI. The other two are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
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The total number of prisoners in all the three jails of Delhi Prisons as of 7 January was 18,528. Tihar has a maximum of 12,669 inmates, Mandoli 4,018 and Rohini 1,841