New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to grant bail to Christian Michel, accused in the Agustawestland chopper scam.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B.R. Gavai upheld the Delhi High Court decision, which rejected Michel’s interim bail.
Michel moved the plea citing his vulnerability to the coronavirus outbreak due to overcrowding in prison. The bench, which took up the plea through video conferencing, said according to the criteria fixed by the High Powered Committee constituted by the government on the direction issued by the top court, Michel cannot be granted bail.
Advocate Aljo K. Joseph, appearing for Michel, submitted before the top court that the Delhi High Court was not correct in declining to grant him bail citing the apprehension was unfounded. Joseph contended that due to his age and overcrowding in jail, Michel is more susceptible to contract the deadly viral infection.
On April 7, the High Court declined to entertain Michel’s bail plea stating his apprehensions, the viral infection is extremely dangerous to his health, were baseless.
The High Court had said that the apprehension of the petitioner (Michel) being infected by COVID-19 pandemic, “it may be noted that the petitioner is lodged in a separate cell with only two other prisoners and thus, is not in a barrack or dormitory where there are a number of prisons. It is not the case of the petitioner that any of the two inmates residing with him are suffering from COVID-19.”
Michel, who is 59 years old, said age and a pre-existing bad state of health will make the applicant more susceptible to infection than any other prisoner with normal health. He had said that he is in judicial custody since the date of his arrest and his further incarceration, it is submitted, would amount to violation of human rights, more particularly in view of the foregoing facts, when his presence can be ensured during the trial before this court by imposing other reasonable conditions. As such, it would be far-fetched to say that he is likely to jump bail.
Michel was extradited from Dubai last year and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in connection with alleged irregularities in the chopper deal. While the CBI is probing his alleged role in the deal as a “middleman”, the Enforcement Directorate is investigating money laundering charges against him.