Ex-Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, arrested on December 9 in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, was on Monday granted bail by a special court in New Delhi which said the CBI has failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid.
Tyagi, 72, who was interrogated by the CBI in its custody for seven days, has been asked by special CBI judge Arvind Kumar to furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and one surety of like amount as pre-requisites for his release on bail.
The court asked Tyagi not to leave the National Capital Region without its permission and ordered him not to tamper with the evidence or try to influence the witnesses.
"The CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused and when it was paid. Admittedly, the CBI has seized the documents regarding properties in 2013 and more than three years and nine months have passed but could not conduct probe in this regard...
"Accused was arrested after about three years and nine months, LOC was withdrawn by the CBI, his accounts were defrozed after the agency gave 'no objection' and accused was allowed to travel abroad," the court, in its order, said.
It noted that Tyagi has joined the investigation as and when the CBI called him and it was not the case that he either tampered with evidence after registration of the FIR or influenced witnesses in the case.
"CBI's apprehension that accused may tamper with the evidence is without any basis... Accused has been a senior government servant. The correctness or otherwise of the allegation as to whether the accused has taken any kickbacks and in what manner he was connected with the same, can only be looked into during the course of trial," it said.
While granting the relief, the court took note of Tyagi's advancing age and his health conditions and said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind the bars.
Tyagi, who retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the CBI in connection with the case which relates to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.
The court would now decide on January 4 the bail pleas of Sanjeev Tyagi and Khaitan.
During the hearing, Tyagi's advocate Manger Guruswamy had said her client "could not be deprived of freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete".
She claimed that in last four years after registration of the FIR, the CBI has never been able to confront Tyagi with any incriminating evidence till date.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, had opposed the bail pleas of the accused, saying if set free, they might influence witnesses and hamper the "multi-layered probe by various agencies in more than one jurisdictions involving several countries".
"We have evidence where the meetings unofficially took place for the purpose of crime. At this stage, please do not entertain their bail pleas. Let the probe be completed," he said, seeking dismissal of the bail pleas of all the three accused and adding the matter has "tarnished country's name".
On the court's query whether the CBI had any material regarding S P Tyagi receiving money, the agency replied the former IAF chief had purchased several properties for which the sources of income were not disclosed by him and alleged that he had abused his official position.
Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, counsel for Khaitan, had also countered CBI's argument, claiming that the agency was trying to sensationalise the matter and there was no allegation that his client had not joined the probe or tried to influence it.
Sanjeev Tyagi's counsel Manav Gupta also opposed CBI's contention saying there was no reason to claim that if granted the relief, his client would hamper the probe.
The accused sought bail on the grounds that the evidence was documentary in nature and had already been seized by CBI and they have cooperated with the probe agency.
The court had on December 17 sent all the three accused to judicial custody till December 30.
The CBI had said it was a "very serious" and "a very high-profile" case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the "interest of the nation was compromised".
Tyagi's counsel had earlier claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a "collective" one and Prime Minister's Office was also a part of it.