Mehul Choksi alleges ‘collusion’ between India, Dominica
Mehul Choksi has claimed before the Dominica high court that Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) joint director, Anurag, wrote to Dominican authorities on May 25, two days after he went missing from Antigua and Barbuda, seeking his deportation to India.
The fugitive diamantaire has alleged that the way India found out about his detention in Dominica and issued a requesting letter with “such swiftness” shows “there was some collusion between two governments”.
Choksi made these claims in an affidavit filed before the high court earlier this week in support of his plea seeking judicial review of the illegal entry proceedings against him. He has attached the letter, purportedly signed by the senior CBI officer on May 25, who heads the Bank Securities and Fraud Cell (BSFC) in the agency, and shared with him by Dominica’s prosecution department. HT has reviewed the affidavit.
The document says that India was making an effort to get Choksi deported to India directly, without involving any court process.
After Choksi filed a habeas corpus petition in the Dominica high court alleging abduction, India moved court on June 8, seeking his deportation on the grounds that he continues to be an Indian citizen and should be sent to India to face charges. The legal process in courts may take time as the matter is already adjourned till August and is expected to stretch till the end of the year.
To be sure, governments usually have direct communication with each other on matters of deportation as it’s an administrative process.
Anurag, who goes by only his first name, did not respond to HT’s calls on Saturday.
The news about Choksi missing from Antigua came into the public domain on May 25, when Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the police there issued statements saying the businessman went missing on May 23 evening and a search was on for him.
According to official Dominican records, he was apprehended in its territory on May 24, and was charged for illegal entry the next day. The Dominica police has said before the high court that it established Choksi’s identity only on May 27, when his driver’s licence was obtained.
Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal and his wife Priti Choksi have, however, alleged he was abducted from Antigua by 7-8 men, tortured and brought to Dominica in a vessel.
“There is overwhelming evidence on record to show that various important people knew that Mehul Choksi has been detained in Dominica on May 25 itself, though it was declared to the world and his family much later and the stand of Dominica police is that they got the identity of Mehul Choksi confirmed only on May 27, when they found his driving license. So, this all speaks volume. Less said the better,” Aggarwal said on Saturday.
Choksi has claimed in his affidavit that a plan to abduct and take him to Dominica was hatched only after the Indian government realised that extradition proceedings in Antigua would take very long.
The fugitive has also annexed the investigation report of the Antigua police, which he claims was obtained by his legal team unofficially, and concludes that his “claim of abduction is credible”.
Both Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica governments have rejected the allegations.
The Indian government has sought Choksi’s deportation on the ground that he masterminded the Punjab National Bank scam worth $952 million and that he continues to be an Indian citizen as his declaration for renunciation of citizenship was never accepted by the ministry of home affairs (MHA).
Choksi has stated in the affidavit that he will present expert evidence to challenge this claim of the Indian government.