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Every chance that Michel will flee if granted bail, CBI, ED tells court

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, Feb 13: The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday strongly opposed before a Delhi court the bail plea of Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, saying he may abscond from India if released.

Christian Michel

CBI and the ED, in their separate replies, told special judge Arvind Kumar that Michel is accused of serious economic offences and there is ample evidence against him to prove his guilt.

The court has posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday after Michel's lawyer sought time to argue.

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CBI said Michel is a British national and has no roots in India and there is "every likelihood that if he is granted bail, he may abscond from India, evading the process of law and may not return to face the trial."

"The apprehensions of CBI about his absconding from the process of law gets support from his past conduct. Keeping in mind the facts and circumstances, there also exists a security threat for the applicant accused, if enlarged on bail," CBI said while seeking dismissal of his bail plea.

It said the accused has acted as middleman in a defence deal of government of India and such "shady and nefarious defence deals sometime create hurdles even in implementing the fair and transparent decisions taken by the governments for procurement of defence equipments in order to strengthen the defence line of the country".

"There is ample evidence on record to link the applicant accused to the commission of such offences, and his release on bail would adversely affect further investigation to unearth the deep-rooted multi-layered conspiracy in the instant case. The conduct of the applicant-accused till date has been evasive," it said.

It said that the agency is taking all possible steps to conduct an effective and fair further investigation which would be hampered if he is released on bail.

Michel had moved the court seeking bail in cases by the CBI and the ED, saying the chargesheet against him was not filed within the stipulated time frame of 60 days.

"Since, the chargesheet was not filed against him within the stipulated 60-day period under section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Probe is complete. I'm in custody since December 22, 2018," Michel had said in the petition.

With regard to Michel's submission that charge sheet has not been filed in 60 days, ED said that he was remanded in judicial custody on January 5 and the period of remand commences from December 22, 2018 and therefore the period of 60 days prescribed under section 167 CrPC does not expire in the case.

CBI also said that the provisions of Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure are not applicable in the case as charge sheet has already been filed against him and 11 others.

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Opposing his bail, ED said Michel's past conduct makes it amply clear that there exists a reasonable apprehension of him evading the process of law. He is also closely linked to ceratin influential people and there exists a reasonable apprehension of applicant tampering with the evidence of the case.

"The investigation of the case is at very crucial stage and the instant application is an attempt to adversely affect an effective investigation of the case," ED said.

Michel, extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on December 22 last year.

On January 5, Michel was sent to judicial custody in the ED case. He is also lodged in judicial custody in the CBI case related to the scam.

Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

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