In a quick turn of events on Saturday (July 27), Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri was granted interim protection from arrest till July 29 by a Delhi court, soon after he left the Enforcement Directorate office where he was to be questioned in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper money laundering case.
According to ED officials, Puri left the agency’s office soon after reaching the office where he was to be confronted with evidence for questioning.
“He was asked to wait but he reportedly left after some time on the pretext of going to the washroom,” officials alleged, according to news agency PTI, which reported that the agency officials then tried to call him on his mobile phone but it was switched off.
Later special judge Inderjeet Singh granted interim relief from arrest till July 29 to Puri, who is the Chairman of Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd, after he approached the court, saying he was anticipating arrest in the case. He was asked to cooperate with the ED probe at 5 pm on Saturday (July 27).
He is the son of Nita and Deepak Puri, the CMD of optical storage media firm Moser Baer. Nita Puri is Kamal Nath’s sister.
The ₹3,600 crore deal to purchase AgustaWestland choppers for VVIPs was scrapped by the Indian government over allegations of corruption and kickbacks being paid in the deal.
Puri, who said he was cooperating in the probe and there was no need of his arrest, alleged political vendetta, saying that the ED wanted to arrest him as his uncle Kamal Nath had gotten the support of two BJP MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, foiling any chances of bringing down his government which has thin majority in the state Assembly.
Puri recently appeared before the ED for questioning in the case. While seeking relief for Puri, senior advocate AM Singhvi told the court that his client was not running away.
“You (ED) can take my passport. No evidence of obstruction of evidence. I (Puri) am appearing before the ED as and when called for. I appeared 22 times and suddenly you want to arrest me. I am a law-abiding citizen. While I was there yesterday, I got to know they have reached my home and harassing my family members,” the counsel told the court, according to the PTI report.
The ED sought time to argue on the matter and opposed the interim protection from arrest. Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, also appearing for Puri, however, said that the ED was opposing interim protection since it wants to arrest “my client as soon as I go out”.
(With agencies inputs)