Mehul Choksi cannot be immediately deported to India. Here's why
A court in Dominica - an island nation in the Caribbean - has put on hold the deportation of fugitive Indian jewelry merchant Mehul Choksi. His lawyers there filed a petition, arguing Choksi was denied legal rights and was not allowed to meet his legal team. Choksi was arrested by the police in Dominica while allegedly trying to flee to Cuba earlier this week.
Choksi's legal team in Dominica has filed a habeas corpus petition in the concerned court. That means he will be brought before a judge to determine whether his detention there is legal or not. Choksi is currently in the custody of Dominica Police and an investigation is underway. The next hearing in the matter is expected on May 28 at 9 am local time.
Choksi's lawyers have claimed that he did not voluntarily go to Dominica. He was abducted by some people posing as cops and even had marks of injuries on his body, they added. "I noticed that he was severely beaten, his eyes were swollen and he had several burnt marks on his body," Wayne Marsh, one of his lawyers, was quoted as saying by ANI.
Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda - where Choksi had been residing as a citizen since 2018 - has reiterated his government's stand that they do not want the fugitive to return there. "It's the decision of the Dominican government whether or not to send him back to Antigua or India...Our preference is that he should be sent back to India."
Sources in the Indian government, cited by NDTV, say the government will use diplomatic channels to soon bring back the fugitive businessman. India is also said to enjoy good diplomatic ties with Dominica.
Choksi was reported missing in Antigua on May 23. At that time, it was said his family was also unaware of his whereabouts. Antigua's Police then issued a lookout notice against him and launched a massive search operation, after which he was caught in Dominica while allegedly trying to flee to Cuba. Notably, Choksi currently holds the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda.
Choksi is accused of siphoning off close to Rs. 7,080 crore in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam and is wanted by top probe agencies in India on charges of fraud and money laundering. He was also allegedly involved in stock market manipulation in 2013. In Antigua too, he is facing two cases - extradition and revocation of his citizenship.