The global image of Dominica as a ruled-based, justice-loving island nation is at stake. Scamster fugitive Mehul Choksi, an Indian businessman who committed bank fraud of Rs 14,000 crores in India, has a red corner notice on him. He illegally entered Dominica and was reportedly planning to escape to Cuba.
A magisterial court in Dominica has rejected the bail application of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi in connection with his illegal entry into the country, said his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal on Thursday.
Choksi and his team of lawyers claim that he was abducted and brought to Dominica and even claim that he was beaten up. Legal experts tracking the case closely told ANI that “Choksi is an open shut case and should be repatriated to India. He committed crime in India, he is an Indian citizen who fled to Antigua, and by manipulation was using constitutional protection in the Caribbean nation.” Antigua, where he was residing, wants to deport fugitive Choksi and had also indicated to revoke his citizenship back in 2019.
Choksi had gone missing from Antigua on May 23 after going out for dinner and was soon caught in Dominica after Antigua police launched a manhunt for Mehul Choksi last month. Mehul was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica after he allegedly escaped from Antigua and Barbuda in a possible attempt to evade extradition to India.
The matter was brought before the court on Monday and after deliberations for just over three hours, the judge ruled that the application of habeas corpus be adjourned until 9 am Thursday. During the hearing, Dominican Judge Bernie Stephenson said that the fugitive businessman must answer the illegal entry charges into Dominica in Magistrates court.
The India-born fugitive is currently at the China Friendship Hospital. He came to the court in a wheelchair.
Mehul’s wife Priti Choksi on Wednesday said the woman who is rumoured to be his girlfriend is known to her husband and to his other acquaintances.
On the reports that fugitive diamantaire was tortured in Dominica, Priti said, “What has brought most anguish to the family is the physical torture and total disregard for the human rights of my husband. If someone really wanted him back alive, why did they need to torture and abuse him physically and mentally? My husband has many health issues.”
A letter was written by Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne to Mehul Choksi early in 2019, which is accessed by ANI, clearly states that under Section 8 of Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Act, Cap. 22 Choksi could be deprived of citizenship on the grounds of willful concealment of material facts and for false representation. Choksi had got Antiguan citizenship by misrepresenting facts, he continues to remain an Indian citizen and should be tried in India.
The Antiguan Prime Minister has been repeatedly saying that Mehul Choksi should be repatriated to India directly from Dominica where he has no legal and constitutional protection. Browne also said that he will not allow Choksi to re-enter his country.
According to reports, the Dominican Public Prosecution Service told the high court yesterday that Choksi should be sent back to India. In the latest development, it is learnt that the magisterial court in Dominica has rejected the bail application of the fugitive diamantaire in connection with his illegal entry into the country. His lawyer says he is moving the upper court.
A team of India officials, lead by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), is in Dominica with all the legal documents, and a chartered plane has also been parked in Dominica for several days. It has been reportedly sent by Indian authorities to bring the fugitive back to India.
It is a big test for the Dominic government, led by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica Labour Party, as there are reports that Mehul Choksi’s elder brother Chetan Chinu Bhai Choksi had met the Leader of Opposition of Dominica, Lennox Linton and agreed on a deal that in exchange for token money and promise of election donation, the opposition leader will press Mehul Choksi’s matter in the Parliament
On one hand, Mehul Choksi’s case has an international legal dimension and now with this disclosure of opposition’s involvement, the case gets further complicated and is mired in domestic politics. It is a big test for the ruling dispensation to deliver justice on the merit of the case. The international community is watching it closely.
(With ANI Inputs)
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