A multi-agency team is headed back to India from Dominica but, without fugitive jeweler Mehul Choksi. This development comes after the Caribbean nation’s High Court adjourned his habeas corpus petition to July and extended its order and adjourned the case. The adjournment is to allow lawyers of Choksi and the Dominica government “to agree on the language to be used with respect to the injunction filed to prevent his removal from Dominica.
The eight-member team included officials from the Enforcement Directorate and the head of CBI’s Bank Securities and Frauds (Mumbai) division. They are flying home on a Qatar Airways private jet that took off from Dominica’s Melville Hall airport, Thursday night. Its scheduled to land at Delhi’s International Indira Gandhi Airport tonight.
In a separate proceeding, a Dominican magistrate’s court also refused Choksi bail after he was charged with illegally entering that country. The fugitive businessman’s lawyers had argued that other non-nationals had received bail for similar matters, but the Dominican government tagged Choksi as a flight risk and pointed to Interpol notices against him.
Choksi, 62, was caught allegedly trying to escape from Antigua to Cuba via Dominica. He went missing on May 23, which ensued into a manhunt by the Antigua police, and was caught on May 27 in Dominica. After his arrest, Antigua said Mehul Choksi should be handed over to India directly.
Gaston Browne, the Antigua Prime Minister, told the media that the wanted businessman should be sent back to India. “We asked them not to repatriate him to Antigua. He needs to return to India where he can face the criminal charges leveled against him,” Browne said. “We will not accept him back. He made a monumental error by skipping the island.”
But Vijay Aggarwal, Choksi’s lawyer said he is no longer a citizen of India and can only be sent back to Antigua. “Moreover, there is an Antiguan High Court order against the processing of any request from India, so my understanding is that he has to be sent back to Antigua only – there is no question of him being sent to India.”
According to the CBI, Choksi was fighting two cases in Antigua related to his citizenship and his extradition to India. He has been on the wanted list with his nephew Nirav Modi for allegedly swindling Rs 13,500 crore as loans from state-run Punjab National Bank using fake documents. The Indian government is also trying to extradite Nirav modi to India.