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AgustaWestland Chopper Scam: Ratul Puri Opposes ED Plea to Cancel His Bail, Delhi HC Reserves Verdict

Ratul Puri's lawyers contended before Justice Suresh Kait that there was "no overwhelming evidence" to warrant cancellation or setting aside of the bail granted to him on December 2 by a trial court.

PTI

Updated:December 13, 2019, 6:27 PM IST
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AgustaWestland Chopper Scam: Ratul Puri Opposes ED Plea to Cancel His Bail, Delhi HC Reserves Verdict
File photo of Ratul Puri.

New Delhi: Businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, opposed in the Delhi High Court on Friday the ED plea to set aside the bail granted to him in a money laundering case connected with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

Puri's lawyers contended before Justice Suresh Kait that there was "no overwhelming evidence" to warrant cancellation or setting aside of the bail granted to him on December 2 by a trial court.

The high court heard arguments by both the sides and reserved its verdict.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the businessman, argued that once bail has been granted for setting it aside the person's conduct post grant of the relief has to be seen.

They also argued that it has become "habitual" for the ED to "raise the same template of objection of tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses" in all such matters.

They also told the court that statements of Rajeev Saxena, who was deported from Dubai and then arrested here, was the basis for going after Puri.

However, now the ED has termed Saxena as an unreliable witness and are seeking to change his status as approver and also cancellation of the bail granted to him.

The ED, represented by central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, contended that its objections against grant of bail to Puri were not considered by the trial court.

It contended that grant of relief to him was an arbitrary exercise of power by the trial court and added that Puri was capable of influencing witnesses and destroying evidence in the case and these aspects were not appreciated by the lower court.

ED also told the court that anticipatory bail plea of Puri was rejected for the reason that he could influence witnesses and destroy evidence and for the same reasons, he ought not to have been granted regular bail.

The contention was opposed by Puri's lawyers, including advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who said that just because anticipatory bail was denied cannot be a reason to deny regular bail as then no would ever be granted regular bail.

While granting him the relief, the trial court had directed Puri, who was in the ED custody since September 4, not to "tamper with evidence" or "try to contact or influence the witnesses".

In the present VVIP chopper scam case, Puri was named as an accused in the sixth chargesheet filed by the ED.

The trial court had noted that the "co-accused having similar or greater role than the role of present accused have already been enlarged on bail."

According to the ED, the role of Puri was that his foreign entities received proceeds of crime directly from Interstellar Technologies Ltd, a co-accused in the case, and that he had received funds from both the chains of money laundering involved in the present matter.

The ED had filed the supplementary prosecution complaint (ED's equivalent to a charge sheet) against Puri and Jaspreet Ahuja in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

In January 2014, India had scrapped a contract with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary, AgustaWestland, for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore being paid to secure the deal.

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