VVIP chopper scam: Accused has no 'entitlement' to access communication from UK, says CBI

Referring to a verdict from 2019, the agency contended that the accused has "no entitlement to access" the communication from the UK in terms of the settled position of law as laid down by the SC.
FILE - AugustaWestland scam accused Christian Michel outside Patiala House Court in New Delhi. (Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS)
FILE - AugustaWestland scam accused Christian Michel outside Patiala House Court in New Delhi. (Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS)

DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has submitted before a court that British Citizen Christian Michel, an accused and alleged middleman in the VVIP helicopter scam case, has no entitlement to access a "communication" from the United Kingdom which is a part of the case diaries.

The CBI's reply was in an application moved by Advocate Aljo K Joseph, on behalf of Michel, after the denial of the central agency to provide some "crucial information" received from the UK through rogatory channels.

Stating the "accused has no entitlement to access" the communication from the UK in terms of the settled position of law as laid down by the Supreme Court, the agency referred to a 2019 verdict of Chidambaram Vs Directorate of Enforcement.

"The court however has unfettered power to peruse the same in the interests of justice. Such perusal acts as an aid for the court to inter alia find out anything that happened during the investigation and to ascertain if the investigation is progressing in the right direction. However, a duty has been cast upon the court at the stage of the investigation to not extract or verbatim refer to the materials of the case diary and make observations which might cause a miscarriage of justice," the reply added.

In the reply, CBI said, the Serious Fraud Office of the UK and the UK Central Authority communicated to the CBI that there are matters of double jeopardy that require further investigation by them, because the Agusta Westland entities and certain individuals may have been convicted or acquitted on the same facts in Italy.

"The CBI was estopped from using the said evidence and it was communicated that: i) The evidence transmitted should not have been sent; ii) It should not be used in any investigation or prosecution; iii) The evidence remains confidential and is not to be disclosed or used until they resolve the issue or until further notice," it read.

It further said, "Such communication was a result of the bogey of double jeopardy being created by the accused to stall the progress 'of the present case, more specifically when the United Kingdom was not even the most appropriate jurisdiction for raising such bogeys."

The CBI said it has followed up on the matter with the concerned authorities, both in writing as well as in meetings between the representatives of India and the United Kingdom and it forms a part of the case diaries.

"However, the embargo created on the use of evidence remains in place, more specifically on a purposive interpretation of Article 7 of the Agreement between India and UK concerning the investigation and prosecution of crime with the municipal law," it was added.

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