Agusta Westland Case: Delhi HC Issues Notices on Bail Pleas of Christian James

Agusta Westland_LegallySpeaking

The Delhi High Court has sought the CBI and ED to provide their stance on pleas filed by alleged middleman Christian Michel James, seeking regular bail in the alleged Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper scam cases concerning the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters.

The Judge

A bench of Justice Jyoti Singh issued notices to the investigative agencies regarding the bail applications submitted by the British national, who was extradited from Dubai in December 2018 and subsequently arrested for his alleged involvement in the scam. In two separate orders issued on April 22, the judge instructed the counsel for the CBI and ED to submit their status reports within three weeks and scheduled the hearing for May 16.

Supreme Court

On February 7, 2023, James, currently in judicial custody, was denied bail by the top court, which rejected his submission that he should be released on the grounds of having completed half of the maximum sentence in the cases. Before that, his bail applications in both CBI and ED cases were dismissed by the high court in March 2022.

On March 18, the top court refused to entertain James’s plea for bail under Article 32 of the Constitution on the grounds that he cannot be charged under any other offenses apart from those mentioned in the extradition decree, and he should be granted the benefit of the “doctrine of specialty.”

The alleged scam pertains to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland.

CBI Chargesheet

The CBI, in its charge sheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer due to the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010, for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros.

ED Chargesheet

The ED, in its charge sheet filed against James in June 2016, had alleged that he received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland. James is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case, with the other two being Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte