Choksi in Dominica: lawyer claims court issued interim bar on extraditiontext_fields
New Delhi: Mehul Choksi, the fugitive businessman wanted in India, and now in Dominica, is reported to have obtained a court order to the effect that he cannot be moved out of the Republic until further orders.
Choksi, the maternal uncle of Indian businessman Nirav Modi, who together with Choksi are charged with defrauding Indian banks to the tune of Rs 13,500 crore, was earlier in Antigua, and Barbuda but then went missing on Sunday. Choksi sought refuge in Antigua in January 2018.
On Wednesday, he was reported to have arrived in Dominica, without any clue on whether that travel was voluntary or forced, and then was captured.
He is under an Interpol issued Red Corner Notice at the instance of India, a point that is likely to come up before the Dominican court.
The court, according to his lawyer Vijay Agarwal, heard the petition of Choksi and issued an interim order to hold any move to take him to any other country.
Indian investigation agencies CBI and Ed are after him for extradition to India over the case of fraud amounting to Rs 13,500 crore from Punjab National Bank (PNB). .
Choksi's lawyer told IANS: "Upon filing of habeas corpus petition titled Mehul Choksi versus Attorney general of Commonwealth of Dominica and chief of police, Dominica court has ordered a restraint on removing Choksi from the land of Dominica until further order."
He said that the Dominica court has also permitted legal assistance and access to lawyers to Choksi, and that the matter is posted for hearing Friday morning.
On Thursday night, Agarwal had said Choksi was forced to get into a vessel from Antigua and he was taken to Dominica. He also claimed that Choksi was kept there and on Monday he was taken to the police station but the news of his arrest was broken only on Wednesday and there are marks on his body of the force.
The advocate said: "Choksi has narrated his horrifying experience which is an eye-opener and vindicates my stand that he would not have gone from Antigua voluntarily. Choksi has said that he was forced to get into a vessel from Jolly Harbor in Antigua and he was taken to Dominica."
His counsel also said that Choksi was kept there, and then on Monday he was taken to the police station. Since then he has been there and this news to the world was broken only on Wednesday.
He claimed that there are marks on Choksi's body of the force.
"There is something fishy and I guess it was a strategy to take him to another place so that there are chances of sending him back to India. So I don't know what forces are operating. The time will tell," he said.
On Wednesday, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the fugitive diamantaire "needs to return to India" where he can face the criminal charges levelled against him.
Antigua News Room, a media outlet, quoted Browne as telling journalists in Antigua and Barbuda: "We asked them not to repatriate him to Antigua. He needs to return to India where he can face the criminal charges levelled against him."
The Antigua Observer also said that Browne has reportedly told the media in India that he has asked Dominican government to detain Choksi for entering their country illegally. "Browne has asked that officials in Dominica make Choksi persona non grata and have him deported directly to India," the Antigua Observer reported.
(With inputs from IANS)