Delhi

AgustaWestland: Christian Michel’s interim bail plea citing coronavirus risk in jail dismissed

Christian Michel, a key accused and alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper cam, is pictured inside a police vehicle outside a court in New Delhi on December 5, 2018.

Christian Michel, a key accused and alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper cam, is pictured inside a police vehicle outside a court in New Delhi on December 5, 2018.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Justice Mukta Gupta said Michel’s apprehension that because of his vulnerable age and overcrowding in jail he is likely to contact coronavirus which may be detrimental to his health, is unfounded

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected the interim bail plea of Christian Michel James, an alleged middleman arrested in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal case, terming his apprehension that he may contract COVID-19 while in jail as “unfounded”.

Jutice Mukta Gupta, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, noted that Mr. James was lodged in a separate cell with only two other prisoners and was not in a barrack or dormitory where there are a number of prisoners.

“It is not the case of the petitioner that any of the two inmates residing with him are suffering from COVID-19. Hence, the apprehension of the petitioner, also because of the vulnerable age and overcrowding in jail, that he is likely to contract COVID-19 which may be detrimental to his health, is unfounded,” the judge ruled.

The high court also said that further investigations, after the filing of the charge sheet by CBI and the complaint in the case by the Enforcement Directorate, were pending in both the cases. “Hence, at this stage, release of the petitioner even on interim bail is not warranted,” it said.

Mr. James, who is lodged in Tihar jail, 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 was already suffering from serious pathologies.

In his plea, he also referred to the Supreme Court’s March 16 order directing all the States and Union Territories to constitute high-level committees to consider releasing on parole or interim bail prisoners and undertrials, for offences entailing up to a 7-year jail term, to decongest jails in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. James, extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the ED on December 22, 2018. He is also facing another case registered by the CBI in connection with the case.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 8:10:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/agustawestland-christian-michels-interim-bail-plea-citing-coronavirus-risk-in-jail-dismissed/article31277124.ece

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