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Plea against extra phone calls: HC directs Tihar Jail to produce Michel

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: July 31, 2019  | 18:52 IST

New Delhi, Jul 31 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed Tihar Jail authorities to produce before it AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case accused Christian Michel, while hearing a plea challenging an order allowing him to make international calls for 15 minutes a week in violation of prison rules. The court listed for August 21, jail authorities' plea challenging a trial court's order allowing Michel to make international phone calls to his family, friends and lawyers for 15 minutes a week in violation of prison rules. The authorities had told the court that the prison manual provided only for 10 minutes per week for making calls. "The superintendent of Tihar Jail is directed to produce respondent no. 1 (Michel), if in custody, on the next date of hearing," Justice Mukta Gupta said. Michel, extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on December 22 last year. He was later arrested by the CBI in the case related to Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland deal. During the hearing, the court issued a production warrant for Michel, noting that no one appeared to represent him in the case. The court had on March 18 asked the CBI and Michel to file their replies on the plea in which the jail authorities alleged that no facts and circumstances were considered by the trial court for granting an "illegal and improper privilege of communication". The counsel for jail had said that as per the January 27, 2017 circular of prison authorities, a foreign national is only allowed to make calls to the country of his or her origin. Michel's country of origin is the UK and as per the jail call records, he has been mostly contacting his "legal representative" in Italy. The accused, lodged in jail under judicial custody, had approached the trial court seeking permission to make phone calls to his family and others, claiming that prison authorities had rejected his plea. Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland. The CBI, in its charge sheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer due to the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros. PTI SKV HMP AAR

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