The government and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have sought to join fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s case in the Dominica High Court, sources said today.
While the CBI will focus on the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will argue on Choksi’s citizenship status, sources add.
The CBI has filed an ‘impleadment’ application in the Caribbean nation’s court on 62-year-old Choksi’s habeas corpus plea.
The agency seeks to submit the PNB case details against the jeweller before the high court to establish that he is a fugitive, sources say.
Relying on the non-bailable warrants issued against Choksi by Indian courts for skipping summons, CBI has submitted, “Choksi, a fugitive” is evading justice in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam case.
India, through the MEA, has filed a separate application to join the proceedings in the Dominica High Court.
Choksi is still an Indian citizen and has not surrendered his passport, the MEA said in its application, sources say, adding that he has not completed his citizenship renunciation process.
Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, too, called Choksi an “Indian citizen” just days ago.
If the CBI and MEA pleas are allowed, former Solicitor-General Harish Salve will represent both CBI and MEA in the Dominica High Court.
The high court has adjourned Choksi’s habeas corpus plea for July and extended its order on removing him from Dominica till the completion of the proceedings.
In a separate case filed by Choksi seeking bail for illegally entering the territory, the Dominica High Court has upheld the magistrate’s order denying him bail on the grounds that he is a “flight risk”.
Mehul Choksi had fled to Antigua in 2018, after purchasing a citizenship from that country, as CBI and Enforcement Directorate investigations into the PNB case were picking up pace.
He was caught allegedly trying to escape from Antigua to Cuba via Dominica last month. He went missing May 25, prompting a manhunt by Antigua police, and was caught May 27 in Dominica.
After his arrest in Dominica, Antigua said Mehul Choksi should be handed over to India directly.
However, Choksi’s lawyer has said his client is no longer an Indian citizen and can only be sent back to Antigua, where he is already fighting cases related to his citizenship and extradition.
His nephew Nirav Modi is currently in jail in London and contesting his extradition to India.