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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Relief for PNB scam accused Choksi as Dominica drops case

PNB scam accused was released on bail on medical grounds in July last year

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: May 22, 2022 10:17:30 am
Mehul Choksi (File)

Almost a year after he showed up bruised and battered in Dominica, fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda and wanted in India for his alleged role in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, has been granted relief by Dominica authorities who have dropped the charge of illegal entry against him.

Choksi claimed he was abducted from Antigua and Barbuda, allegedly by Indian agents, and forcibly taken to Dominica in a yacht — Dominica is an island nation to the south of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean.

He claimed he was no longer an Indian citizen and could not, under existing laws, be repatriated to India.

Arrested in Dominica on May 24 last year for entering the country illegally, he was freed on bail in July on medical grounds. He returned to Antigua and Barbuda.

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India looks to Antigua

Choksi has been eluding Indian agencies by waving his citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda. He has been living there ever since he fled India in January 2018. Indian agencies are now counting on extradition proceedings in an Antigua court to get him back.

In a statement Saturday, a spokesperson for Choksi said, “Mr Choksi is pleased that the Dominican Government has today dropped all charges against him for unlawful entry in May 2021. By doing so, they now recognise that there was never any case against him.”

“Mr Choksi was forcibly removed from Antigua against his will by agents of the Indian State, viciously assaulted, and taken to Dominica by boat, where he was again unlawfully handed over to authorities for an offence he never committed.”

“Mr Choksi’s legal team continues to pursue all avenues for justice to redress the human rights violations committed against him. Mr Choksi hopes that those responsible for his kidnapping from Antigua on May 23rd, 2021 will be brought to justice,” his spokesperson said.

Vijay Aggarwal, his lawyer in India, said, “Truth always comes out in the end, no matter how hard anyone tries to stop it or hide it. Lies are just temporary delays to the inevitable. It was extremely insensitive for some people to call injuries on my client Mr Mehul Choksi to be fake because of some legal strategy.”

In July last year, Choksi flew out of Dominica in an air ambulance and was received in Antigua by officials there. The Dominican High Court had granted bail to Choksi and allowed him to return to Antigua because Dominica did not have the facilities to provide him adequate medical care.

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The court had also stayed proceedings of illegal entry against Choksi after his lawyers alleged kidnapping by Indian agents.

His return to Antigua was a setback to Indian agencies which had moved court in Dominica to repatriate Choksi to India.

After he showed up in Dominica police custody, a private jet carrying Indian officials had landed in Dominica to take him back to India. But after the Choksi case was committed to court over the charge of illegal entry, the jet had to return.

India’s quest to get Choksi back now hinges on extradition proceedings in an Antigua court.

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