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Mehul Choksi moves Bombay HC seeking to keep in abeyance ED's fugitive proceedings

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Mumbai, Nov 19: Businessman Mehul Choksi has moved the Bombay High Court seeking that the proceedings initiated against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has sought that he be declared a fugitive economic offender (FEO), be kept in abeyance.

Mehul Choksi

Choksi, an accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case worth ₹14,500 crore, moved the High Court on Thursday through senior lawyer Vijay Aggarwal.

The ED, in 2019, had moved an application before the PMLA court seeking that Choksi be declared a FEO under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

As per the Act, a person can be declared a FEO if a warrant has been issued against him for an offence involving Rs 100 crore or more and if the person has left the country and refuses to return. Choksi, in his application, said that he could not be declared as a fugitive accused person, since he had not left India to avoid criminal prosecution, but had left well before any FIRs were registered against him.

The businessman said that in July 2021, he was granted bail by a court in Dominica and had been permitted to travel to Antigua and Barbuda for medical treatment.

However, Choksi was facing difficulties in travelling because of the ongoing proceedings before the special PMLA court in the city, the petition stated. Choksi's lawyer Aggarwal told a single bench presided over by Justice S K Shinde that the Dominica court had passed the order permitting him to travel for medical treatment in the presence of Indian authorities.

He further said that it was unfair for the Indian authorities to argue that Choksi was intentionally refusing to return to India. Choksi was not refusing to return to India to face criminal prosecution, but was being prevented from doing so due to his inability to travel as a result of his medical condition, the lawyer argued.

Advocate Hiten Venegaokar, who appeared for the ED, opposed Choksi's application and sought time to file a detailed reply. The High Court granted the central agency time to filed a reply and posted the matter for further hearing to December 21.

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