New Delhi: A Delhi Court Thursday reserved order on a plea by Christian Michel, alleged middleman arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, which accused the Enforcement Directorate of politicising the case by leaking the charge sheet to the media.
Special judge Arvind Kumar said the order would be pronounced on May 3 in the case after lawyers from both the sides concluded their arguments. Advocate D P Singh, appearing for the agency, told the court that there was nothing wrong if the media published or broadcast its contents as the court has already taken cognisance of the case and only the fresh accused had to be summoned. He said the plea filed by Michel should be dismissed as there was no merit in it.
Countering his submission, the lawyer appearing for Michel argued that there was a media trial due to the leakage of the charge sheet. The agency had on April 12 told the court that the charge sheet was a public document and there was nothing wrong if someone accessed it.
In his application, Michel's lawyer had told the court that the copy of the charge sheet was provided to the media before it was provided to the accused. "Michel has not named anyone in his statement before the agency which is being leaked to media. This is only to make the matter sensational and prejudice the case against my client," he said.
The court then directed the 'ahlmad' (court staff) to file a report containing information related to the charge sheet, including how many copies were filed by the agency. ED had on April 6 also urged the court to issue a notice to a news organisation asking it to explain how it accessed the documents, while terming the matter as "serious". Michel had also supported the demand of a probe while accusing the agency of politicising the matter.
Michel, currently in judicial custody, was arrested by the ED on December 22 last year after his extradition from Dubai. He is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the chopper scam by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI.
The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. The agency had earlier told the court that Michel received 24.25 million euros and 1,60,96,245 pounds from the AgustaWestland deal. The ED told the court that it had identified Michel's properties purchased with the proceeds of the crime. The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros.