‘A Flight Risk’: Dominica Court Denies Bail to Mehul Choksi
At present, Mehul Choksi has been granted interim relief from immediate repatriation to India by the court.
As per local media sources on Saturday, 12 June, fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi was denied bail by the high court in Dominica for being a “flight risk”, news agency ANI reported.
The Judge noted that the court cannot impose any conditions that effectively restrain Choksi from absconding as he has no ties to Dominica, the Antigua Newsroom reported.
The court ruling comes a few days following the Dominica Prime Minister referring to Choksi as an "Indian citizen".
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was earlier quoted saying, “The matter with this Indian citizen is before the courts, the courts will decide what happens to this gentleman and we allow the court process to go through.”
At present, Choksi has been granted interim relief from immediate repatriation to India by the Dominican court.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are the key accused in the Rs 13,400 crore Punjab National Bank scam of 2017. Both fled India in January 2018 before the CBI could file a case against them and have been absconding since.
Case in Dominican Court
Choksi is facing trial in Dominica for allegedly entering the country illegally from Antigua, where he had been living after fleeing India over the PNB fraud case.
On 2 June, Choksi pleaded not guilty to illegal entry at his court appearance and was denied bail even as his lawyers had claimed that he was forced on a vessel and was abducted.
The Dominican High Court on Thursday, 3 June, had adjourned the habeas corpus hearing of Choksi.
Quoting Antigua News Room, IANS reported that the hearing was adjourned to allow lawyers for Choksi and the Dominican government to agree on the language to be used with respect to the injunction filed to prevent his removal from Dominica.
CBI Files Affidavit in Dominica High Court
The CBI on Saturday said that it had filed an affidavit in the Dominica High Court stating that Choksi is a fugitive from justice, and the chief conspirator in the PNB scam case.
“CBI made attempts to arrest Mehul Choksi during the course investigation, but his whereabouts were unknown, and he was not available in India,” the agency told the Dominican court, according to ANI.
"Mehul Choksi is fully aware of proceedings in India. He has appointed lawyers in India, and one of them recently gave a press interview about the happenings in Dominica supporting the version being advanced by Choksi. It is unfortunate that Mehul Choksi has suppressed all this from the Court and has instead suggested that there are no proceedings against him in India," the agency added.
The CBI informed the Dominican court that a Non-Bailable Warrant of Arrest had been issued against Choksi on 17 April 2018, which could not be executed as he had already fled the country.
While Choksi was wanted by Indian authorities and even had Interpol warrants against him, he was staying in the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda, of which he gained citizenship in November 2017.
In India, Choksi is wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
On 23 May, it was reported that Choksi was detained by the police in the island country of Dominica, on charges of entering the country illegally on a boat.
Earlier, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne had evinced that the Indian government is working towards the repatriation of Choksi to India, in order to ensure that he undergoes the legal proceedings for his alleged felony.
Choksi will not be accepted by the Antigua and Barbuda, Browne had remarked, adding that he should be immediately deported to India.
Browne added that if the felon is evicted to Antigua, he will continue to be protected by the legal and Constitutional benefits of his citizenship.
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