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AgustaWestland: Court pulls up ED for chargesheet leak

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, May 04: A Delhi Court pulled up the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged leak of a supplementary chargesheet in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case to the media, saying the denial given by the agency did not inspire any confidence and was not worthy of reliance.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar further directed ED's Director to ensure that no such incident like the leak of the documents is repeated in future in any matter.

AgustaWestland: Court pulls up ED for chargesheet leak

The court was hearing a plea by Christian Michel, alleged middleman arrested in the case, seeking an enquiry into the leak in the money laundering case.

Michel had accused ED of politicising the case by passing the documents to the media.

AgustaWestland case: Advocate Gautam Khaitan granted bail by courtAgustaWestland case: Advocate Gautam Khaitan granted bail by court

The ED had refuted the allegations of handing over the documents to the journalists and had filed a status report claiming there was no leakage of the chargesheet on its part and "most likely" the leak to the media was caused from an extra copy that was left with the court staff.

The court staff had denied receiving any extra copy from the ED.

In the order, the judge said the status report was "not worthy of reliance" as he noted that there was no direction from the court to the ED to file any additional copy, neither did the agency mention earlier that it had submitted an extra copy.

"Even if the version of ED is believed, it was totally uncalled for and negligent on the ED official to leave a copy with the Ahlmad (court staff)."

"The allegations made by the ED, on face of it, appears incorrect. The version of the ED is not inspiring any confidence and is not worthy of reliance," the court said.

The court refused to go into the issue regarding the media getting the access of the supplementary of the chargesheet and whether giving it to the scribes was a deliberate act or a result of negligence or carelessness.

"However, I deem it fit to direct the Director, ED, to take necessary steps to ensure that no such incident is repeated in future in any matter whatsoever. Further, this court does not find any contempt of court being committed (on part of ED)," the court said.

Earlier during the arguments, the ED had 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.

The agency had told the court that the charge sheet was a public document and there was nothing wrong if someone accessed it.

Michel's lawyer had told the court that there was a media trial due to the leakage of the chargesheet.

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.

Production warrant issues in AgustaWestland chopper caseProduction warrant issues in AgustaWestland chopper case

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 chargesheet 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 chargesheet, 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.

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