Supreme Court: A bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ on asked the counsel of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in Agusta Westland VVIP chopper scam, to approach the Delhi High Court for his interim bail in wake of the coronavirus lockdown. The Court refused to express any views on the merits of the case and asked Michel’s counsel to approach the High Court for the same.
It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court has directed all States/Union Territories to constitute a High Powered Committee to determine which class of prisoners can be released on parole or an interim bail for such period as may be thought appropriate.
Michel had approached the Supreme Court for interim bail in light of prevalent conditions owing to COVID-19 in the country. The interim bail has also been pending with Delhi High Court but has not been taken up for consideration. Michel was earlier directed to wait for the decision of a High-Powered Committee, which was set-up by the Delhi government to decongest the jails in the national capital. However, Michel’s case was not considered for grant of bail by the committee. Thereafter, the British national approached the Supreme Court seeking interim bail.
Michel, in his bail plea, claimed that he falls within the class of people more vulnerable to coronavirus and his health condition is very critical and incompatible with the current prison status under the COVID-19 crisis.
Michel was extradited from Dubai in 2018 and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in connection with alleged irregularities in the chopper deal. While the CBI is probing his alleged role as a ‘middleman’ in the deal, the ED is investigating money laundering charges against him.