The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant bail to Agusta Westland accused Christian Michel who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail and had sought bail on medical grounds in midst of the ongoing COVID19 outbreak.
The plea, filed against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was heard by Justice Mukta Gupta of the Delhi High Court via videoconferencing. CBI and ED had both opposed Michel's bail before the High Court despite arguments made by Michel stating that the jail conditions in Tihar were not suitable to his health condition which was critical at the current status. Christian Michel also stated in his plea that he was more susceptible to contracting the virus since he was suffering from multiple ailments already at a vulnerable age and his immunity was at an "all-time low".
While dismissing his petition, Justice Gupta stated that the apprehensions raised by Michel in his plea were "unfounded".
The Court stated - "It must be noted that the petitioner is lodged in a separate cell with only two other prisoners and not in a Barrack or a dormitory with a number of prisoners. Neither of the two inmates residing with the petitioner has been found to be positive of the COVID19 virus. Hence the apprehension of the petitioner that he is likely to contract the virus which may be detrimental to his health is unfounded at this stage."
While opposing his bail plea, CBI during the course of arguments had told the Delhi High Court that the high powered committee formed by the Delhi High Court and led by Justice Hima Kohli had stated that cases of foreign nationals and prisoners involved in more than one case or prisoners involved in money laundering cases should be excluded from being released from prison under the current circumstances.
CBI also stated that all prisoners in Tihar Jail were being regularly checked for the COVID19 virus.
59-year old Christian Michel, who was extradited to India from Dubai in connection with the Agusta Westland case in 2018 has previously approached the Courts multiple times seeking bail in the case, but every time it has been rejected. This time around, the petition was filed by him after the Supreme Court a few weeks back had issued directions to all States to consider the release of undertrial prisoners in jails to prevent overcrowding of the jails. Michel had earlier approached the Supreme Court directly, but was asked to come to the Delhi High Court to seek appropriate relief.