The Indian Youth Congress on Wednesday expelled lawyer Aljo K Joseph from its legal department after he appeared in court to represent Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal case who was extradited to India late on Tuesday. The organisation said the lawyer appeared in his personal capacity without consulting the party.
The Congress issued a statement after Suresh Nakhua, a spokesperson of the Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party unit, claimed that Joseph is a Congress worker, PTI reported. “He [Aljo Joseph] did not consult the Youth Congress before appearing in the case,” the Youth Congress said. “IYC [Indian Youth Congress] does not endorse such actions. IYC has removed Aljo Joseph from IYC’s Legal Department and expelled him from the party with immediate effect.”
In July, Aljo was appointed to take charge of the organisation’s legal department.
Earlier on Wednesday, a special court in Delhi granted the Central Bureau of Investigation five days’ custody of Michel. The British national was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates late on Tuesday, NDTV reported. Michel will be produced before the court on December 10, according to PTI.
On accusations against the Congress in the case on the irregularities in the deal, party leader Salman Khurshid accused the CBI of involving his party in the case so that people would raise questions. “It is just a game to put a question mark on the Congress,” he said. “If the CBI is now getting involved in this case, we will fight against it. But I hope they have their facts and figures in place to persuade a court.”
The AgustaWestland helicopter deal, which snowballed into a huge controversy in 2016, relates to an agreement that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government signed with the British-Italian firm in 2007. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, on charges of paying bribes to win the contract. Michel is one of three suspected middlemen who Indian investigative agencies believe brokered the deal.
In July, reports claimed Michel was being pressured by Indian agencies to frame Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in return for exoneration from criminal proceedings.