Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi being held in police custody in Dominica, is fit to be deported to India according to former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director AP Singh, who said the businessman held no legal rights in the East Caribbean Island nation to which he had attempted to allegedly escape from neighbouring Antigua, where he had been living since 2018.
The former CBI director Singh told ANI: "It is possible for Dominica to deport Mehul Choksi to India as he has no legal rights in Dominica. But he alleged before the court that he was kidnapped and brought to a third country (Dominica) against his will. Now the court will decide his deportation."
He further stressed that deportation is an easier process than extradition.
"If a criminal or a wanted fugitive is living in a country where they have legal status as a citizen, only an extradition process is left... For deportation, if someone enters a third country illegally and is caught, the country concerned must deport to India. The CBI has many deportation experiences under Interpol''s Red Corner notices," the ex-CBI director told ANI.
Singh said it was not necessary to enter into a treaty with a country for deportation or extradition of criminals/fugitives, stating that there has been many deportations from a third-party country based on Interpol''s Red Corner notices.
Interpol had issued the Red Notice against Choksi in December 2018.
According to Choksi''s lawyers, the jeweller had not fled Antigua but was forcibly abducted and allegedly beaten up and taken to Dominica.
According to former CBI director Singh, "If the Dominica court finds that Choksi was kidnapped and forcibly taken to Dominica, he would be deported to Antigua as his country of origin."
Choksi, is a key accused in the Rs 13,000 crore Punjab and National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case and is wanted in India on bank fraud charges, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. He acquired Antigua and Barbuda citizenship through the Citizenship by Investment Program in 2017 and had been living in Antigua since 2018. The jeweller is opposing court action to revoke his Antiguan citizenship and have him extradited to India
Choksi''s lawyers have approached Dominica''s Supreme Court in the case pertaining to deporting him to India. The court has put a stay on his movement out of Dominica and is set to hear the matter today, June 2.
India has to present a tough case for against Mehul Choksi in the Dominica Court. India to present relevant papers and evidence in court as per the practices of the agencies.
Former CBI director Singh, when asked if a team from India has sent Dominica for a court hearing, he cited reports in local media.
"I have seen in the media that India has sent a team of officials who will present the case papers and evidence in the court. They will have to present the documents in the court through a lawyer and the local embassy will assist them, as per protocol," Singh said.
Meanwhile, Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne had earlier told ANI that Dominica has agreed Choksi''s repatriation and Antigua will not accept him back. (ANI