Updated: July 13, 2021 10:45:54 am
Fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, who is under arrest in Dominica, was on Monday granted bail by a Caribbean court and allowed to travel back to Antigua and Barbuda.
This is a setback for Indian agencies that had moved court in Dominica to get Choksi repatriated to India to face trial in the Rs 13,000-crore PNB loan fraud case. While India has argued that he is an Indian citizen, Choksi has maintained that he ceased to be one when he took Antiguan citizenship in 2017. Antigua too had said it does not want Choksi back in its country and would prefer him to be repatriated to India.
According to reports in the Antiguan media, Choksi has been granted bail on medical grounds and allowed to travel to Antigua for treatment.
Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal, who confirmed the development, said, “Dominica courts finally upheld the rule of law and rights of a human to be treated in the medical facilities of his choice. And all attempts by various agencies did not bear fruits. There is a solace in saying that all clever foxes end up as fur coats.”
According to reports in the Antiguan media, Choksi’s bail plea was supposed to be heard on July 23 but was heard on July 12 on medical grounds. His lawyers had moved the court pleading that he was suffering from a neurological disorder for which he needed treatment in Antigua.
The Eastern Caribbean High Court in Dominica, which on Monday granted Choksi bail, has asked him to furnish a bond of 10,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars and also asked him to return to Dominica after treatment.
Antiguan PM Gaston Browne had last month said that Choksi was a Dominican problem, but if he came to Antigua, he would become Antigua’s problem.
The bail order comes amid allegations from Choksi’s family and lawyers that the jeweller was abducted from Jolly Harbour area of Antigua by agents of Indian agencies and forcibly taken to Dominica in May. According to his London lawyer Michael Pollak, this was done to deprive him of the protection of law that he enjoys in Antigua and Barbuda as a citizen of that country.
Choksi is facing a case of extradition in Antigua on India’s request.
Following his arrest in Dominica in the last week of May, a private jet carrying officials from the CBI and Ministry of External Affairs had arrived in Dominica, ostensibly to get him back to India.
In a press conference on June 10, Polak had claimed that Choksi was “kidnapped” on May 23, but the planning for the same “occurred much earlier than that”.
He said Barabara Jarabic alias Barbara Jose, a UK national, flew from London to Antigua with another person in early April. She then flew to Dominica in a private aircraft along with this person and stayed there for a few days before coming back to Antigua. The next day both, along with two others, flew out to London.
During this period in April, Polak claimed, the two individuals — who have been identified as Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Bhandal — tried to dock a yacht at a Dominica port. Singh and Bhandal have been named by Choksi’s wife Priti as those who allegedly kidnapped her husband, bundled him off in a yacht and took him to Dominica on May 23.
Polak claimed that during Choksi’s transportation to Dominica, Choksi was asked to sign a form which appeared to be a consent form to be deported to India.
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