NEW DELHI: A fresh plea was filed in a Delhi court on Saturday seeking a judicial inquiry into shifting of Christian Michel, arrested in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, to a high-security cell, claiming it was done without recording any reasons.
The plea, filed by advocate Aljo K Joseph, said Michel was shifted to the high-security cell suddenly without recording any reasons and was kept in isolation.
The plea said that the British national, who was deported from Dubai, was inflicted with the punishment illegally.
"Such act of jail authorities without the due process of law is illegal, arbitrary and highly condemnable. The accused (Michel) has not been provided with newspapers nor library access in the jail. In a true sense he is spending his days just by watching the cells and the walls which itself is sufficient to destabilise his mental balance," it said.
Earlier, the Delhi court had lashed out at the Tihar Jail authorities for failing to justify shifting of Michel and said that it will start an inquiry if it does not get a proper response.
It had said Michel has been lodged in jail for last 70 days and asked what happened suddenly due to which he has now been shifted to the high-security ward.
Deputy Superintendent of Tihar Jail had told the court that Michel was shifted to cell number 2 (high-security ward) keeping in mind his safety as it was a high-profile case.
However, he failed to justify the sudden shifting before the court.
"Why was there no threat to his security till now. He was kept with other prisoners for 70 days. This was always a high- profile case. If that was the case he should have been kept in a high-security ward since the beginning. Tell me why all of a sudden he was shifted to a ward where hardened criminals were kept," the judge had asked.
The court had directed the Director General (DG) of Tihar to file a comprehensive reply by March 5 on the reasons of Michel's sudden shifting to the high-security cell and why he was kept with hard-core criminals.
The Deputy Superintendent had also told the court that hard-core criminals, including Chhota Rajan and Shahabuddin, have been kept in the same ward.
The fresh plea said that cell number two was kept lodging offenders who were convicted above 10 years and charged for offences punishable under the National Security Act and the Public Safety Act.
"Michel was is not coming under any of these categories rather the jail authorities at the behest of 'External Pressure' shifted the applicant to the high-security cell of Jail No 2 in the name of security which ultimately amounts to punishment and mental torture," it said.
The plea further said that the jail authorities, without recording any reasons, has shifted Michel and kept him in solitary confinement (isolation) which otherwise was not permissible under law.
"He is not allowed to neither interact nor walk around in the prison. The liberty of the applicant is completely curtailed by the jail authority without any reason. The only reason which has been explained to him and also to the court is that due to the security concern he is being kept in an isolated cell."
"It is submitted that if any security threat is there for the applicant then it is the duty of jail authority to give sufficient protection to the life and liberty of the applicant. They ought not have curtailed his liberty and could not have lodged him in a isolated cell in the form of a solitary confinement. The entire contact of jail authority in keeping the applicant in the high security is itself a punishment," it said.
The court had on February 27 sought a detailed report from the jail authorities on a similar plea of Michel which had claimed that he has been kept in solitary confinement in the prison and had asked the superintendent or a competent authority to appear before it to respond to the allegation that he was not allowed to interact with co-prisoners.
The jail authority had denied the allegations that he was denied common facilities in the new cell like permission to meet visitors, make phone calls, newspapers and said that though he has been kept in isolation all facilities were provided to him.
The similar plea has claimed that on February 18, the jail authorities conducted a search of Michel's cell to look for a laptop computer allegedly being used by him.
It said no computer was found in the cell.
However, the authorities shifted him to a high-security cell immediately after, it has said.
It said when Michel asked for reasons for his "solitary confinement", the jail authorities told him it was the "decision from the top" and there was "serious threat" to his life.
The plea has sought direction to the authorities to return his personal belongings, including a diary containing contact details of officers of the British High Commission and documents of the case, which were taken away after the search.
Michel was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on December 22 after his extradition from Dubai.
On January 5, he was sent to judicial custody in connection with a money-laundering case being probed by ED.
Later, he was arrested by CBI and is lodged in judicial custody in a CBI case related to the chopper deal scam.
Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the scam by ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.