CBI court refuses to cancel NBW against Ratul Puri

IANS

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Wednesday refused to cancel the non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Ratul Puri in the money laundering case relating to the AgustaWestland deal.

The court said Puri failed to join the probe despite repeated notices of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The Delhi High Court had on Tuesday rejected Puri's anticipatory bail plea. "Granting of pre-arrest bail would stall effective investigation in the case," said Justice Sunil Gaur.

"Gravity of the offence committed can be judged from the contents of the aforesaid statement recorded under section 50 PMLA. This court is of the prima facie opinion that custodial interrogation of petitioner is required for an effective investigation," the Delhi HC said.

"Mere attachment of property would not justify pre-arrest bail to petitioner who is not only evasive in his replies, but is also trying to influence the witness. It's evident from the statement of the witnesses recorded by the ED and provided to the court in the sealed cover," the court said.

During the hearing of the NBW cancellation plea on Monday, ED counsel Special Public Prosecutor D.P. Singh had said the agency had called Puri but he didn't join the probe. Opposing the claim, Puri's counsel Vijay Aggarwal said the agency called his client at 11.55 a.m. on Monday, but Puri was stuck in a board meeting.

Singh said the agency tried to send summons to Puri, but he was unavailable and the summons were received by his mother. The agency didn't receive any communication about his joining the probe and also that he was in Delhi, the ED counsel said.

On Saturday, the court refused to stay NBW against Puri. During the hearing, Aggarwal had said, "I got interim protection from the high court on 13th, sent them a mail on 14th mentioning that I am willing to join the investigation on 15th. We sent a similar mail today also."

"If they would have called me and I would have sat there, as far as my understanding goes the warrant would have lapsed," he added

"When I am calling him everyday, he didn't come. Now he wants to come on August 15, a national holiday. This is just an attempt to confuse the court by filing multiple applications," said Singh countering Aggarwal's submissions.

"If they have an interim protection from arrest by the high court, what's the need to stay the NBW," Singh said.A

On July 26, when Puri was being questioned in the AgustaWestland VVIP case he sought permission to go to washroom, but slipped away, an agency official said. When he didn't return, agency officials tried to reach him on his mobile phone but it was switched off. But Puri denied the ED allegations saying he was granted a lunch break by the officials interrogating him.

Puri,Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath's nephew, is under the investigative agencies' scanner for allegedly receiving kickbacks in AgustaWestland deal through his companies. The agency has alleged that accounts associated with firms, owned and operated by Puri, were used to receive kickbacks and launder the deal money.