A Delhi court today asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file a written response over the alleged leak of its supplementary charge-sheet in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper scam to the media even before a copy was served to defendants in the case.
Main accused Christian Michel had filed an application in this regard, claiming that the charge-sheet was intentionally leaked to the media in an attempt to politicise the case ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
During the course of the hearing, ED counsel DP Singh submitted a sealed cover containing the Intelligence Bureau's report on the sequence of events leading to the charge-sheet leak. He also made an oral submission that the court issue a notice to a private television channel, and order a "detailed inquiry into how they got a copy of the charge-sheet".
The request was backed by the ED as well as the defence counsel. Christian Michel's lawyer Aljo K Joseph additionally sought a gag order prohibiting the media from debating the contents of the leaked charge-sheet on air.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar asked the probe agency to file a written response to Christian Michel's application without passing any orders in this connection.
The court also took the supplementary chargesheet filed by the agency on Thursday into consideration, and issued summons to all the new accused named in the supplementary charge-sheet -- including Christian Michel's associate David Syms and two of his firms -- ordering that they appear for the next hearing on May 9.
The ED had claimed on Thursday that it has traced the money trail allegedly emanating as "kickbacks" in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper scam. The process of identifying the recipients of the bribes is on, it added.
The BJP was quick to take note of media reports claiming that the ED charge-sheet had hinted at the involvement of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's family and party leader Ahmed Patel in the chopper scam. "One mention was of AP and the other was FAM. AP stands for Ahmed Patel and FAM stands for family. Have you heard of Ahmed Patel? Which family is he close to?" Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked supporters at an election rally in Dehradun on Friday.
(With inputs from Agencies)