The Delhi High Court today granted more time to Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, and the CBI to respond to a plea by Tihar Jail authorities challenging an order allowing him to make international phone calls for 15 minutes in violation of prison rules.
Michel, lodged in Tihar Jail, was also produced before Justice Mukta Gupta in pursuance to the court's earlier direction.
The court was informed by CBI's Special Public Prosecutor that the panel of lawyers has been changed and the counsel, who will now represent the agency, received the case file on Sunday and sought time to respond to the plea.
Michel's counsel also sought time to file his response saying he was not given the copy of the petition after which the court asked the advocate for jail authorities to provide him the plea.
The court allowed the plea of counsel for CBI and Michel and granted them time to file their responses and listed the matter for further hearing on July 31.
Advocate Avi Singh, appearing for Tihar Jail, said the unequal treatment is continuing and due to this, other inmates have also started demanding the same.
The court had on March 18 asked the CBI and Michel to file their reply on the plea in which the jail authorities have alleged that no facts and circumstances were considered by the trial court for granting an "illegal and improper privilege of communication".
The trial court had in January allowed Michel to make international phone calls to to his family, friends and lawyers and he was granted 15 minutes a week for making calls.
The jail's counsel had earlier said the prison manual provided only for 10 minutes per week for making calls.
He 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 the prison authorities had rejected his plea.
Michel, extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on December 22 last year. He was later arrested by CBI in the case related to Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland deal.
The court had earlier imposed restrictions on Michel meeting his lawyers while he was in the ED''s custody, after the agency had said he was misusing the legal access by passing chits to his lawyers, asking them how to tackle questions on "Mrs Gandhi".
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.
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.
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.
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