New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted interim protection from arrest to businessman Ratul Puri till August 20 in connection with a money laundering case related to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.
A single-member bench of Justice Sunil Gaur heard arguments on his anticipatory bail plea in detail and asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file a status report of the case against Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
The court asked the probe agency to mention the extent of attachment made by the Income Tax Department in connection with the case along with Puri's role in the case.
The ED has also been ordered to state the reasons for seeking the custodial interrogation of Puri. Puri's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Vijay Aggrawal argued that their client was neither an accused nor was mentioned in the main complaint.
"Puri is neither accused in the main complaint nor named in the 5th supplementary. Puri was made to join the probe based on the statement of Rajiv Saxena, who is the approver in the case. However, the ED has itself filed the application seeking his bail cancellation, saying that he is unreliable. If Saxena is unreliable, then why his statement is being treated as reliable in this case," Singhvi argued.
Puri's counsel also stated that while the probe agency has invoked the Benami Act of Rs 800 crore, their client has one of the largest energy companies in India and is not a flight risk.
"Since February 2019, he has joined probe many times," Puri's counsel told the court. Representing the ED, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi said that the probe agency required Puri's custody for interrogation.
"We are opposing the plea seeking interim protection from arrest," Lekhi said. Lekhi also clarified the ED has not filed anything to revoke the grant of pardon to Rajiv Saxena but instead has only sought his bail cancellation.
Puri had moved to the Delhi High Court on Tuesday seeking anticipatory bail in connection with a money-laundering case related to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.
Puri was served with a Non-Bailable Warrant by a special court on August 9. The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland.
The deal was scrapped by the NDA government in 2014 over the alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks for securing the deal.