The All India Congress Committee on Wednesday announced the removal of Aljo K Joseph, the lawyer representing Christian Michel, saying he did not "consult with the Youth Congress" before appearing for AgustaWestland chopper scam case.
"Aljo K Joseph appeared in his personal capacity. Indian Youth Congress (IYC) does not endorse such actions. IYC has removed Aljo Joseph from IYC's Legal Department and expelled him from the party with immediate effect," said Krishna Allavaru, joint secretary, All India Congress Committee.
Earlier on Wednesday, Joseph had refuted allegations of association with the Congress in connection with the case.
Joseph, who was in charge of the legal department of the Indian Youth Congress, represented Michel in a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday, after which BJP leader Suresh Nakhua took to Twitter to target him.
Any guesses who is lawyer for Christian Michel ? Mr @Aljokjoseph , National incharge, legal department, Indian youth congress (Youth wing of Cong led by #OutonBail @rahulgandhi ) pic.twitter.com/54UQGZaY3x " Suresh Nakhua 🇮🇳 (@SureshNakhua) December 5, 2018
RSS ideologue Swaminathan Gurumurthy tweeted out Joseph's appointment letter as the national in-charge of IYC's legal department.
Aljo Joseph's appointment letter as the National incharge of legal department of IYC. He was appointed to "strengthen Rahul's hands" says the letter dt 28.6.2018, 4 months back. His first assignment is to defend the AW middleman Christian Michel. To strengthen Rahul's hands? pic.twitter.com/tBUjW6xQxg " S Gurumurthy (@sgurumurthy) December 5, 2018
Taking a dig at Joseph, Gurumurthy claimed his first assignment was to "defend" Michel to "strengthen Rahul Gandhi's hands".
According to the letter shared, Joseph was appointed to his post on 28 June, 2018.
Speaking to ANI, Joseph said that appearing for Michel had "nothing to do with the Congress", and that he had represented the British businessman only in his "professional capacity".
Lawyer of #ChristianMichel, Aljo K Joseph: I'm an actively practicing advocate. I appeared for him (#ChristianMichel) in my professional capacity. If somebody asks me to appear on behalf of a client...I've only discharged my duty as a lawyer. It has nothing to do with Congress. pic.twitter.com/9G06xcpPb0 " ANI (@ANI) December 5, 2018
Further clarifying his stance, Joseph explained that Michel's lawyer in Italy had requested him to take up the case through a friend, who had "Dubai connections". "So I was just helping out by appearing and assisting him in this matter," he told ANI.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Delhi court gave the CBI five-day custody of Michel. The agency, according to reports, had sought 14-day custody of the British businessman.
On Tuesday, the CBI said Michel "was being extradited to India in an operation under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval".
This was after the Dubai government passed an order allowing the extradition of the 57-year-old to India after a court turned down his appeal against the move.
The ruling BJP had said the extradition in the AgustaWestland case from the UPA regime was a diplomatic victory for India and could spell "serious trouble" for the Congress' "first family", referring to Gandhis.