The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday told the Bombay High Court that fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi has obtained medical reports from a hospital in New York and submitted it to the court to “hoodwink the due process of law” in India.
In April, Choksi had approached the court claiming that he had not deliberately avoided joining the investigation against him in the Rs 13,600-crore Punjab National Bank alleged fraud case, but was unable to return because of his medical condition. He has filed an appeal against the trial court’s order, before which he had claimed that his inability to return cannot be seen as his refusal to return and hence, the provisions of the new legislation, Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, cannot be invoked against him.
Choski claimed that his medical records show that he has several blocked arteries and that he was advised a bypass surgery by doctors, following which he had travelled abroad and continued to be suffering from various ailments. He has further said that he is “constrained from travelling” as he needs continuous monitoring and medical supervision.
An affidavit filed on Monday by Kuldeep Singh, assistant director in the zonal office of the Directorate, stated that Choksi has communicated to the agency that he does not intend to join investigation. “It may be appreciated that during the course of investigation, the appellant (Choksi) was given several opportunities to appear before the investigating agency and to put forth his version. But, the appellant has deliberately and intentionally evaded attendance before investigating officer on one pretext or the other,” it read.
The affidavit further said that Choksi said he underwent a coronary angiography in February 2018 in New York, but the medical certificates dated October 26, 2018, and January 18, 2019, appear to be from a general practitioner instead of a cardiac expert.
“The said certificates, therefore, appear to have been specifically obtained to hoodwink the due process of law in India,” the affidavit said, adding that copies of medical documents submitted by Choksi are not the originals and so the genesis and veracity of the contents of the documents cannot be relied upon by the court.
It further said that the medical advice on discharge categorically allowed him to return to work within three-five days in February 2018 itself. “As such, it is not clear as to what prevents him from undertaking travel now, i.e., after about 8-9 months from the date of undergoing the said procedure,” the affidavit stated.
Choksi has filed another petition in appeal against the trial court’s order rejecting his plea seeking cross-examination of ED officials, who submitted a report under the FEO Act against him.
Choksi claims that while seeking to declare him a fugitive economic offernder under the Act, the ED has considered statements of 19 persons. He has sought for cross-examination of the witnesses, based on whose statement the provisions of the Act were invoked. In this petition, the ED has replied that if Choksi wishes to cross examine witnesses, he must come and appear in person before the special court.