AgustaWestland case: Delhi HC directs authorities to return passport of Rajiv Saxena

New Delhi [India], October 16 : The Delhi High Court has directed the concerned authorities to return the passport of Rajiv Saxena, whose passport was impounded in view of the seriousness of the charges and the likelihood of him fleeing from the process of the court and to a third country. Saxena is an accused turned approver in the AgustaWestland case.

Justice Navin Chawla clarified that any observation made in this order shall also not prejudice the respondents from proceeding further with the proceedings under Section 10 of the Section 10A of The Passports Act, 1967, in accordance with the law, as the same are not the subject matter of the present petition.

Saxena had challenged the order dated 25.01.2019 issued by the respondent authority, suspending his passport. He had also challenged the order dated 01.05.2019 extending the period of suspension of his passport till the proceedings relating to variation, impounding or revocation of the passport under Section 10 A of the Act is concluded. As a consequent relief, the petitioner prayed for the return of his passport.

Saxena’s counsels’, advocates RK Handoo and Rajat Machanda, submitted that the impugned orders are liable to be set aside as they do not give any reason for the exercise of powers under Section 10A of the act nor follow the procedure of granting a hearing to the petitioner. Counsels further submitted that the order of suspension of the petitioner’s passport cannot be indefinite as has been sought to be done in the present case.

Whereas counsels for Central government and Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) advocates Ajay Digpaul and DP Singh asserted that the action to suspend the passport of the petitioner was taken, keeping in view the urgent need for the deportation of the petitioner from the UAE with whom India has an extradition agreement and as it was apprehended that the petitioner may flee to a country from where it would have been difficult for him to be extradited ultimately hampering the investigations. The period of suspension of the passport was extended by the order dated 01.05.2019 due to continuing investigations and the need for the petitioner to be present for interrogation.

The CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) are investigating the Agusta Westland case. Dubai-based businessman Rajiv Saxena was extradited to India on January 31 last year in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore alleged scam relating to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland. (ANI)

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