The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Enforcement Directorate to file its reply to petition by businessman Ratul Puri against the rejection of his anticipatory bail by the CBI Court in the AgusttaWestland case. connection with the Agusta Westland case. It has also the ED to give details of attachments made by the Income Tax Department and the role of Puri in the alleged offences and the reasons for seeking his custodial interrogation.
Appearing for Puri, who is the nephew of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamalnath, Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that his client was not an accused. “ I am not an accused / no mention in the 4 supplementary Chargesheet as well as the main complaint. I have only been named in the 5th supplementary Chargesheet “ and proceeded to read out the allegations against Puri made by the ED.
He said that Puri was made tol join the probe on the basis of the statement made by Rajiv Saxena who turned approver in the case. . “However, ED has themselves filed the application seeking his (Saxena) bail cancellation saying that he is ‘unreliable’. On one hand they say he is unreliable but he is reliable in my case “, he said
Mentioning that the benami act was invoked against his client, Sunghvi said his client had the biggest energy company in India and was not a flight risk. “From February this year, he has joined the probe 27 times” he said. Singhvi also referred to a Khosla, who was one of Puri’s associates whom the ED said one day was liquidated and only to retract and say later that he was alive and kicking.
Appearing for the ED, Aman Lekhi said “ We are opposing the anticipatory bail and seek his custodial interrogation.” And sought time to file the reply.
The trial court had on August 9 issued non-bailable warrant against Puri on the plea by the Enforcement Directorate.
The high court had dismissed his petition seeking a direction to the trial court not to pronounce order on his anticipatory bail plea without hearing his other pending applications. Hours later, the trial court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea, noting that the probe was at a crucial stage.
According to Enforcement Directorate, Puri has not been joining investigation since he was granted interim protection by court on July 27 on his application for anticipatory bail, which was later dismissed on August 6. The ED had said he did not join the probe on July 29, 30, 31 and further on August 6 and 7, nor was he accessible on phone or at his residence and that his whereabouts were not known.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The deal was scrapped by the NDA government in 2014 over the alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks for securing the deal.
–India Legal Bureau