MEA says he remains in the custody of Dominican authorities ‘where certain legal proceedings are under way’
A United Kingdom-based legal help organisation has lodged a complaint with the Scotland Yard’s War Crimes unit, seeking investigations into the role of some British residents in the alleged abduction of Mehul Choksi from Antigua to Dominica.
The organisation, Justice Abroad, is headed by lawyer Michael Polak. At an online press conference on Thursday, he said: “The rule of law is a very important principle across the Commonwealth. People need to know that when they are in Commonwealth countries like Antigua and Dominica, they won’t be kidnapped and taken away from places from where they have outstanding legal matters.”
With regard to Christian Michel, who is in judicial custody in Tihar Jail in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, Mr. Polak said it was a worrying case and that a United Nations panel had already made pronouncements about it.
Choksi’s lawyers have alleged that he was abducted and physically tortured in Antigua on May 23 after being lured by one Barbara Jabarika, a Hungarian national and U.K. resident, to her house. She has denied her involvement.
It has been alleged that Choksi was overpowered at Ms. Jabarika’s house by about half-a-dozen men, taken to a small boat and then shifted to a larger one to be transported to Dominica, where the authorities knew about his identity. However, he was not given access to legal counsel for three days.
Choksi’s bail application and a habeas corpus petition filed by his lawyers are pending in the Dominica High Court. While in Antigua, he had the right to approach the Queens Privy Council in case he did not get any reprieve from lower courts. This legal recourse is not available in Dominica, but he can appeal in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
On the Choksi issue, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: “We will continue to make all efforts to bring fugitives to face justice in India. Regarding Mehul Choksi, no particular update. He continues to remain in custody of Dominican authorities where certain legal proceedings are under way. As for Nirav Modi, you are aware that on April 15 this year, U.K. Secretary of State had ordered his extradition to India. We understand Nirav Modi is seeking to appeal against this decision. He remains in the custody of U.K. authorities.”
The uncle-nephew duo had fled the country along their family members in the first week of January 2018, days before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against them on a complaint from the Punjab National Bank alleging fraud. It is alleged that they cheated the bank of ₹13,578 crore. Based on the CBI case, the ED launched a money laundering probe and has attached assets worth thousands of crore in India and abroad.
Acting on India’s request, in December 2018, the Interpol had issued a Red Notice against him. However, it still remains, pending execution.
The investigating agencies later found that Choksi had taken Antiguan citizenship. He is currently fighting two cases in the Antiguan courts, one to establish the validity of his citizenship and another on India’s request for his extradition.