The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, seeking interim bail on the grounds that being in Tihar Jail amid the coronavirus pandemic posed a risk to his already fragile health, Bar and Bench reported on Tuesday.
The Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation opposed Michel’s interim bail petition, saying that he was safe at the Tihar Jail and not at any risk of contracting Covid-19. The lawyers representing the investigation agencies said prisoners at the Tihar Jail have been screened and no Covid-19 case has been found there.
The CBI stated that in terms of the criteria for interim bail because of Covid-19, laid down by a high-powered committee, cases of foreigners imprisoned in more than one case and cases under money laundering laws were excluded.
Justice Mukta Gupta, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, said Michel’s concerns about contracting the infection in jail are unfounded. “It is not the case of the petitioner that any of the two inmates residing with him are suffering from Covid-19,” the judge said. “Hence, the apprehension of the petitioner also because of the vulnerable age and overcrowding in jail that he is likely to contact Covid-19 which may be detrimental to his health, is unfounded.”
Last month, authorities at the Tihar Jail had released over 400 prisoners. This was done after the Delhi government amended prison rules to provide convicts the options of getting special parole and furlough to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections in crowded prisons. The amended prison rules provide for 60-day parole in case of unprecedented situations like an epidemic or a natural disaster or any other situation which mandates reducing of the population of the inmates.