New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): India on Friday rejected a United Nations panel's call to release Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AugustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, on the grounds that the conclusions drawn by the panel are based on limited information and biased allegations.
In a statement Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the government of India provided timely information on this issue to the Working Group in June 2020, on their request.
"We have seen selective leaks of the opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the case of Mr Christian James Michel, even before its official release. At the outset we would like to make it clear that the Working Group is not a judicial body, and therefore, its opinions are not legally binding on the Member States," he said.
"We regret that the conclusions drawn by the Working Group are based on limited information, biased allegations from an unidentified source, and on an inaccurate understanding of India's criminal justice system. The extradition was done entirely in accordance with the provisions of the Extradition Treaty signed between two sovereign States. The arrest and subsequent custody were done as per the due process of law and cannot be considered arbitrary on any grounds," Srivastava added.
The spokesperson stated that the Working Group should be aware that India has robust grievance redressal mechanisms against allegations of violations of human rights in a vibrant and independent judiciary and a 'category A' National Human Rights Commission compliant with the Paris Principles.
"The allegations which form the basis of the opinion rendered by the Working Group are contrary to facts. The Government of India, therefore, rejects the opinion rendered by the Working Group," Srivastava said further.
According to media reports, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found that Michel, who has been held in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the United Arab Emirates, was being "detained arbitrarily".
Michel was extradited from Dubai in 2018 and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in connection with alleged irregularities in the chopper deal. While the CBI is probing his alleged role as a middleman in the deal, the ED is investigating money laundering charges against him. (ANI)