Updated: June 3, 2021 9:10:20 am
The Dominican Public Prosecution Service has told a court in the country that fugitive diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi should be deported to India as his plea is not maintainable.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Dominica is hearing Choksi’s plea against deportation to India.
Choksi is accused of defrauding the public sector Punjab National Bank (PNB) of almost Rs 13,600 crore. He has been out of India since January 7, 2018, days before the PNB scam came to light. On January 15, 2018, he took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda.
Arguing that Choksi is not a citizen of India as Article 9 of the Indian Constitution states that any person who acquires a citizenship of a foreign country will automatically cease to be an Indian citizen, his legal team has told the Dominican court that he cannot be directly repatriated to India.
On May 24, a day after Choksi was reported missing in Antigua and Barbuda, he was caught by the local police of Dominica, where he reportedly arrived on a boat. Subsequently, Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said his government has “specifically requested” Dominica “to have Indian law enforcement agencies make necessary arrangements to have him (Choksi) returned directly to India”.
However, Choksi’s legal team has claimed the 62-year businessman did not flee Antigua but was abducted as part of a honey trap. According to his lawyers, a woman, who allegedly befriended Choksi over the last six months, had called him to an apartment in Antigua on May 23, from where he was abducted by a group of men. He was then allegedly beaten up and forced into a yacht before being ferried to Dominica.
India has sent a team of eight officials, including from the CBI and the Ministry of External Affairs, to secure Choksi’s deportation to India. A private jet is said to have reached Dominica on May 28 with documents pertaining to Choksi’s case in India.
Choksi’s lawyer in India, Vijay Aggarwal, said his client’s brother Chetan Choksi reached Dominica on May 28 to ensure proper medical care to the diamond jeweller.
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