A Delhi court on Saturday issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate based on a plea filed by Christian Michel, alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, who has accused the agency of leaking the chargesheet in the case and politicising the case, PTI reported.
Michel has claimed that, contrary to what media organisations have reported, he has not identified anyone in connection with the deal during his interrogation
The court scheduled the next hearing in the matter for April 11 and also summoned Michel’s business partner David Nigel John Syms as an accused in the case. The court ordered Syms to appear before court on May 9.
Meanwhile, the agency has demanded an inquiry into how a copy of the chargesheet leaked to the media and asked the court to issue a notice to a news organisation to clarify how it accessed the document.
Michel had filed a plea in court after the Enforcement Directorate alleged in a supplementary chargesheet on Thursday that kickbacks were paid to defence officials, bureaucrats, mediapersons and important political leaders of the “then-ruling party” in the case. The probe agency added that Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman arrested in the case, identified abbreviations like “AP’’ as Ahmed Patel and “Fam’’ as Family. “As per Christian Michel James [the alleged middleman arrested in the case], ‘AP’ means [Congress leader] Ahmed Patel and ‘Fam’ means Family,” it said.
Michel’s counsel Aljo K Joseph claimed that the copy of the chargesheet was leaked to the media even before it was provided to Michel, or the court could take cognisance of it. “Michel has not named anyone in his statement before the agency which is being leaked to media,” Joseph said. “This is only to make the matter sensational and prejudice the case against my client.
The plea alleged that selective portions of the chargesheet have been published in the media, and claimed this proved that the Enforcement Directorate was not interested in a fair trial.
The former Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had signed the Rs 3,565-crore helicopter deal in 2010 with the British-Italian firm AgustaWestland. 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. Christian Michel, who was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates in January, is now lodged in Tihar Jail.