Christian Michel seeks bail citing coronavirus; SC asks him to move HC

New Delhi, April 1, 2020-

Christian Michel, lodged in Tihar jail, an accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam on Wednesday sought interim bail from Supreme Court in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. He cited the apex courts recent order granting bail to undertrial prisoners to decongest the overcrowded prisons.

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah, in a hearing through video conferencing, asked Michel to seek interim bail in the case from the Delhi High Court. Advocate Aljo K Joseph, representing Michel, said without going into the merits of the case, the court asked Michel to move Delhi High Court for bail. Michel moved the apex court stating that the High Court did not give him a hearing on the bail plea. Last week, he had moved the High Court seeking interim bail.

Michel, who is 59 years old, said age and a pre-existing bad state of health will make the applicant more susceptible to infection than any other prisoner with a normal health condition. Further, the presence within prisons of subjects who have tested positive for COVID-19 poses a threat to the applicant considering his existing health condition and age. In view of the present situation and any contingencies that may arise as a result of the over-crowded prisons during the current pandemic, it is necessary that the court may consider the plight of Christian Michel and persons similarly placed.

He said that he is in judicial custody since the date of his arrest and his further incarceration, it is submitted, would amount to violation of human rights, more particularly in view of the foregoing facts, when his presence can be ensured during the trial before this court by imposing other reasonable conditions. As such, it would be far-fetched to say that he is likely to jump bail.

Michel was extradited from Dubai last year and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in connection with alleged irregularities in the chopper deal. While the CBI is probing his alleged role in the deal as a “middleman”, the Enforcement Directorate is investigating money laundering charges against him.  (Agency)

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