HC to hear ED's plea of Ratul Puri's bail on Jan 14

HC to hear ED's plea of Ratul Puri's bail on Jan 14

The Delhi High Court is scheduled to pronounce on Tuesday its verdict on the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) plea to set aside bail granted to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in a money laundering case connected with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

Justice Suresh Kait on December 13, 2019 reserved judgement on the plea of ED which had contended its objections against grant of bail to Puri were not considered by the trial court.

It had also 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.

The ED had 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.

Opposing ED's contentions, Puri's lawyers had told the court that there was "no overwhelming evidence" to warrant cancellation or setting aside of the bail granted to him on December 2, 2019 by a trial court.

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.