Nationality argument crucial in Dominica as India waits with private jet to bring back Mehul Choksi
New Delhi, June 02: A private jet awaits to bring back fugitive businessman, Mehul Choksi from Dominica to India. A Dominica court would rule on whether Choksi can be sent back to India or not, the arguments of which will be advanced today.
Choksi's legal team says that a honey trap had been laid over the last few months. The legal team also claims that he was called to an apartment in Antigua on May 23, following which he was abducted, beaten up and then ferried to Dominica. Hence the contention that he had fled Antigua could not be sustained, his legal team also said.
His lawyers have also argued that he cannot be deported to India as he is not an Indian citizen anymore, the Indian side says that he may have surrendered his passport, but India has not accepted the same. In such a case a surrender of passport has to be issued, India also says.
India would cite Section 9 of the Indian Citizenship Act which does not allow dual citizenship. Section 9 says that any citizen of India who by naturalisation, registration, otherwise voluntarily acquires, or has at any time between the 26th January, 1950 and the commencement of this Act, voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country shall, upon such acquisition or, as the case may be, such commencement, cease to be a citizen of India. The exception would arise if the two countries are at war with each other.
Meanwhile a team consisting of two members of the CBI and officials of the other agencies has reached Dominica. Choksi, who mysteriously went missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen was detained in neighbouring Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend.
The Dominican government had issued a statement that it is ascertaining the status of his citizenship with Antigua and once confirmed, he would be deported there.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne had said Dominica and law enforcement agencies, unless the court rules otherwise, can deport him to India because he is an Indian citizen, Antigua News Room reported.
The problem is if he is sent back to Antigua because he is an Antiguan citizen, even though his citizenship is unsettled, he still enjoys constitutional and legal protections as a citizen. We have no doubt that his citizenship will ultimately be revoked because he did not disclose material of information.
The team of officers are in Dominica to bring back Choksi and coordinate with the local prosecutors to put forward its best case before the high court.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January 2018 weeks before Rs 13,500 crore scam in Punjab National Bank rocked Indian banking industry.