‘Can’t return to India due to health complications’: Mehul Choksi in HC
In December 2018, Choksi had sought to quash the proceedings initiated against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO) Act, 2018, on medical grounds.Updated: Apr 25, 2019 08:37 IST
Fugitive diamond merchant Mehul Choksi approached the Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday against the non-consideration of his plea, stating he is unable to return to India due to health complications. This is the second time Choksi, one of the prime accused in the ₹13,500-crore fraud case at Punjab National Bank, has cited medical grounds for not returning to India to appear in the proceedings against him. Choksi’s legal counsel submitted his detailed medical history as well as prescriptions from doctors who recommended Choksi avoid travel.
In December 2018, Choksi had sought to quash the proceedings initiated against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO) Act, 2018, on medical grounds. In its FEO application to the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, the ED said Choksi “has left the country under suspicious circumstance in the first week of January  and deliberately avoided joining investigation in spite of issuance of summons for his appearance”. Choksi countered the ED’s claim by saying he was unable to return due to health complications and submitted his medical record. Choksi’s application was dismissed without considering its merits.
On Wednesday, Choksi’s plea before HC said, “The said averment is not true as the accused [Choksi] has not deliberately/ intentionally refused to return but was unable to return because of his persisting medical conditions.” He said he was advised against travel and required continuous monitoring by medical experts, but that the special court had failed to take this into consideration.
Choksi’s legal counsel, Vijay and Ashul Agarwal, submitted his detailed medical history along with 38 documents which included prescriptions from doctors who advised Choksi against travelling. His plea stated that Choksi has been diabetic for the past 20 years and has had several blocked arteries since 2012. “Petitioner [Choksi] consulted doctors in India, who advised him that his heart disease would likely need treatment by stents or bypass surgery,” it said, adding that Choksi had travelled abroad for medical reasons when he became breathless and fell ill. He then consulted doctors abroad who conducted further tests and angiograms. Upon their advice, Choksi underwent a successful surgery to place two stents, but doctors have advised against further surgical procedures. According to his plea, there is also a clot in Choksi’s brain which has led to added complications and “it is extremely impossible for him to travel on a long flight of 41 hours.” Choksi became a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda in January 2018.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are the prime accused in the fraud case at PNB. They have been accused of using fraudulent guarantees to secure credit from overseas banks. Both left India in January 2018, before non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against them by a special PMLA court in March 2018. Modi and Choksi have denied the allegations against them. Modi was taken into custody in London, on March 19.