Mehul Choksi 'Can't Be Removed' From Antigua And Barbuda, Says High Court

Mehul Choksi, whose nephew is fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, has been living in Antigua and Barbuda since 2018. He is wanted in India in connection to the Rs 13,000 crore PNB fraud.

Fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi

Mehul Choksi, the fugitive diamantaire who is wanted in India in a Rs 13,000 crore fraud case, has won a battle as the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda ruled in favour of him, granting him permission to not be removed from the island, media reports said.

Choksi, who has been living in the Caribbean nation since 2018, argued in his lawsuit that there was an obligation on the part of the defendants, the Attorney General of Antigua and the Chief of Police to carry out a thorough inquiry, Dominica-based Nature Isle News reported. 

He said he has an arguable claim that he was subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and sought relief including a declaration suggesting he was entitled to a prompt and thorough investigation into his forcible removal from Antigua and Barbuda in May 2021.

The court order prohibited the removal of the claimant from the island’s territory without the High Court ruling following an inter-party hearing and subject to the Choksi exhausting all available legal remedies, including appeals, according to an ANI report.

"Further or in the alternative, a Declaration that the first Defendant is to establish an independent, judicial inquiry as to the circumstances of the Claimant (Mehul Choksi)'s forcible abduction and removal from the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda on or around 23 May 2021. A Declaration that the second Defendant has a duty to confirm to the Dominican police that the evidence supports that the Claimant was forcibly removed from the jurisdiction and taken to Dominica against his will," the court order read, as reported by ANI.

"An Order that the Claimant may not be caused to leave and/or be removed from the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda without an order from the High Court after an inter partes hearing and subject to the Claimant exhausting any appeals or other legal relief provided by law. An Order that the second Defendant releases the statement taken by its officers from the Claimant on 15 August 2021," it stated.

Mehul Choksi is wanted in India in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud worth ₹ 13,000 crores. His nephew is fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has stated that it remains committed to returning fugitives and criminals to India to face the process of criminal justice.

Last month, the CBI asked the Commission for Control of Interpol's Files (CCF) for the restoration of Red Notice against the 63-year-old fugitive. The Interpol had opened a Red Notice against Choksi in 2018 on a request from the CBI and Enforcement Directorate.

His appeals against the decision were rejected in 2020. Later, nearly a year after his alleged abduction, in 2022, Choksi approached the CCF, a separate body within Interpol that is not under the control of INTERPOL Secretariat and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries, “to revise its earlier decision of 2020”, the agency said.