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Dominican Court Puts Restraint on Moving Choksi Till Further Order

Mehul Choksi was taken into custody in Dominica, after he was reported missing in Antigua and Barbuda. 

Updated
India
3 min read
File image of Diamantaire Mehul Choksi.
i

Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi will not be repatriated to India as a Dominica court on Friday, 28 May, ordered a restraint on moving Choksi from Dominica until further order, The Economic Times reported. He will be provided legal assistance, and the matter will be taken up by court on Friday.

Choksi’s lawyers had filed a habeas corpus petition in a court of the Caribbean island country after they were allegedly not given access to him, the dimanataire’s counsel, Vijay Aggarwal said, PTI reported.

As per Choksi’s counsel in Dominica, Mehul Choksi claimed that men, looking like Indian and Antiguan policemen ha forcibly picked him up at Jolly Harbour in Antigua and Barbuda and put him in a vessel.

Earlier, Dominican authorities has asked the administration of Antigua and Barbuda to ascertain some facts including Choksi’s Antiguan citizenship, then “possible arrangements will be made for him to be repatriated to Antigua”.

Dominica’s Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs had also confirmed that Mehul Choksi was detained by law enforcement for illegal entry into Dominica.

India has been in touch with the governments of both Antigua and Dominica and has been using diplomatic channels to get back Choksi, sources were cited as saying in media reports on Thursday.

The fugitive diamantaire, who is wanted by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, was taken into the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dominica after he was reported missing in Antigua and Barbuda.

As per reports, Choksi was trying to flee to Cuba and was caught on a beach in Dominica.

‘He Made a Monumental Error’

Speaking to news agency ANI, earlier Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Gaston Browne had said that Choksi will not be welcome in Antigua. "He made a monumental error by skipping the island. Dominican government and law enforcement are cooperating and we have informed the Indian government to have him repatriated to India. We have been coordinating discussions to ensure that he is ultimately repatriated to India.”

Stating that Choksi may have entered the island of Dominica “illegally, possibly on a boat” the PM added, “I am not aware that he is a citizen of Dominica and that he enjoys any Constitutional protection. So, on that basis, it will be easy for Dominica to deport him.”

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‘Not an Indian Citizen Anymore’

Meanwhile, Choksi's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal asserted that he could be deported only to Antigua as he is not an Indian citizen anymore. "As per Indian Citizenship Act, the moment Mehul Choksi acquired citizenship of Antigua, he ceased to be an Indian citizen. As per Immigration and Passport Act, he can be deported only to Antigua," he was quoted as saying.

Earlier on Wednesday, Aggarwal had told news agency ANI, "I have spoken to his family and they are happy and relieved that his whereabouts are now known. Efforts are being made to speak to him so that one can get a clearer picture of how he was taken to Dominica.”

Choksi, an accused in the over Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, had been reportedly residing in Antigua and Barbuda since 4 January 2018.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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