Rajiv Saxena, one of the accused in the high-profile AgustaWestland chopper scam, is likely to become an approver in the case once he is granted bail, according to people aware of the court proceedings.
Saxena, who became on January 30 the second most important suspect in the case to be brought in from the United Arab Emirates after the extradition of Christian Michel, is accused of laundering “proceeds of crime”.
“Only after bail,” said one of the people, when asked about the possibility of Saxena becoming a witness for the Enforcement Directorate which is investigating the money laundering aspect of the ₹3,600 crore irregularities allegedly linked to the purchase of helicopters from AgustaWestland.
On Wednesday, a Delhi court refused to grant him any relief and extended his judicial custody by a day. The court said that it will decide on the bail after examining a report from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Aiims) which will assess Saxena’s medical condition.
Saxena, an accountant, had sought bail citing serious health problems. The ED on Wednesday said it did not oppose his bail plea. “We said on the first date itself when he was brought that he is cooperating. And we had said so in our remand application. I am not persecutor but a prosecutor,” said ED’s special public prosecutor DP Singh.
The ED did not respond to requests to comment on a possible attempt by Saxena to help the investigation.
The submission drew a sharp response from special judge, Arvind Kumar, who said, “we are recording your submission.” “When you arrested him, you were aware of his health condition, and then you sought his remand thrice. On what grounds?” he asked.
The ED representative said the agency had “apprehensions of his security”. “And he was supposed to tell us names (of powerful people),” Singh said. “What about the security now,” asked the court, to which Singh said the government may offer him protection if he sought it.
Saxena’s counsel Geeta Luthra submitted earlier that he was suffering from advanced stage leukaemia, radiating back pain, numbness and heaviness in leg, neck pain and muscle spasms.
“If this is not the case of medical bail, I do not know what is,” argued Luthra.
Michel and Saxena are among those charge-sheeted in a case that involved bribes to help Italy-based Finmeccanica (now Leonardo Group) win the contract — signed and eventually scrapped under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government — for 12 helicopters primarily meant to transport VVIPs.
Several parameters in the original tender were tweaked to swing the deal in favour of Finmeccanica, and several Indians, including former air force chief Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi have been accused of being a part of the conspiracy. All of the suspects have denied the allegations.
First Published: Feb 14, 2019 07:11 IST