Chopper rip-off: SC stays HC order dismissing ED’s plea to revoke approver standing of Rajiv Saxena

New Delhi, December 4

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the verdict of the Delhi High Court which had dismissed the plea of Enforcement Directorate (ED) to revoke approver status of businessman Rajiv Saxena in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde issued a notice to Saxena seeking his response on the appeal filed by the ED against the high court’s June 8 judgement.

“Issue notice. In the meantime, there shall be a stay of operation of the impugned order,” said the bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

Dubai-based businessman Saxena was extradited to India on January 31 last year in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore scam case relating to the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing on Friday, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for the ED, told the bench that there was a “clear error” on the part of high court as it had said pardon could be revoked only after he deposed as witness.

“There is a provision in the CrPC that pardon can be withdrawn if he fails to give any evidence,” the bench observed.

The high court, in its verdict, had said the ED’s plea before the trial court for revoking the approver status was not maintainable as his statement under Section 306 (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) had not been recorded.

Section 306 (4) of the CrPC provides for recording of statement of an accomplice who has been granted pardon.

The high court had further said once his statement under Section 306 (4) of the CrPC was recorded, the ED could again move an application for revoking Saxena’s approver status.

The ED had sought revocation of Saxena’s approver status in the high court claiming that he had undertaken to disclose all facts related to the offence but he was not doing so.

The probe agency had challenged the trial court order, which had refused to revoke Saxena’s approver status, in the high court.

The ED, in its plea before the trial court, had said while seeking pardon, Saxena had said he would make full disclosure of the facts within his knowledge and his statement was recorded in March last year after which he was granted pardon.

The agency had said Saxena was allowed to be an approver by the trial court subject to his making full and true disclosure of the whole of circumstances within his knowledge relating to the offence.

The ED had alleged that Saxena had very strategically withheld and not disclosed full and true facts which were within his knowledge relating to the commission of the offence and had deliberately hidden and fabricated certain documents to shield the other co-accused, which was contrary to the terms of the grant of pardon granted by the trial court. PTI

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