Thursday, April 18, 2024

AgustaWestland: SC nixes bail plea of ‘middleman’ Christian Michel James


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New Delhi, March 18: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a fresh bail plea of Christian Michel James, an alleged middleman who is being probed by the CBI and the ED in the alleged Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper scam cases relating to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters. It was argued that James cannot be charged under any other offences apart from those mentioned in the extradition decree and he be granted the benefit of the doctrine of speciality. He was arrested in December 2018 after being extradited from Dubai.
“How can you file the Article 32 (one of provisions in the Constitution which gives right to move the SC for enforcement of fundamental rights) petition in this case?” asked a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. Dealing with the submission that James cannot be charged for other offences which were not part of the extradition decree, the bench said this has been dealt by it earlier also and it cannot go “ad nauseum” (repeating the same thing until it becomes boring and annoying).
The counsel for the extradited accused said he has been in jail for the last five years and this can be the maximum sentence that can be awarded to him in case of conviction. On February 7 last year, the top court had denied bail to James and rejected the submission that he be released on the ground that he has completed half of maximum sentence in the cases.
The CJI, while writing the judgment, had said James may pursue his remedy of regular bail before the trial court in the case.
James had sought bail under section 436A of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which says a person can be released on bail if he has completed half of the maximum sentence prescribed for the offence. The accused had then challenged the Delhi High Court order dated March 11, 2022 by which his bail pleas were dismissed in both the CBI and ED cases.
Dismissing the bail pleas in both the CBI and ED cases in 2021, a trial court had said considering the overall facts and circumstances, the serious nature of the accusations, the gravity of the offence and the conduct of the accused, it did not consider it a fit case for bail. (PTI)


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