A Dominica court has stayed the repatriation of fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi. The order was issued by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court on Thursday.
"This order is to be served immediately on the Defendants by email and fax and in person, and the Head of Immigration at the Douglas Charles Airport by email and fax," read the Court order. The court will hold the next hearing in the matter on May 28 (9 am local time).
Wayne Marsh, Choksi's lawyer in Dominica, earlier said that they were denied access to their client and it was only on May 27 that he was finally given access to speak to Choksi.
"I noticed that he was severely beaten, his eyes were swollen and had several burnt marks on his body. He reported to me that he was abducted at Jolly Harbour in Antigua and brought to Dominica by persons whom he believed to be Indian and Antiguan police on a vessel he described to be about 60-70 feet in length," Marsh told ANI.
Terming it a "travesty of justice", Marsh added that the whole nation needs to speak out and as a lawyer they would do whatever they can to stop the abuse of Choksi.
After Choksi was apprehended in Dominica, Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne had asked Dominica to hand
Reacting to the court's order, he said, "Ultimately, it is the sovereign decision of the government of Dominica as to which country they repatriate Mehul Choksi unless the Court states otherwise."
Dominica is not among the 58 countries with which India has either extradition treaties or arrangements, while it has the same with Antigua and Barbuda. In such cases, the decision of where a fugitive will be repatriated depends on local authorities.
Choksi is currently in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dominica, according to Antigua media. Choksi had been living in Antigua but he fled the country on Sunday. A massive manhunt was launched and an Interpol Yellow Notice was issued by Antigua and Barbuda. He was traced and captured in neighbouring Dominica.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking.
While Modi is in a London prison after repeated denial of bail and is contesting extradition to India, Choksi had taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme, before fleeing India in the first week of January 2018. The scam came to light subsequently. Both are facing a CBI probe.