NEW DELHI: Legally, as per Section 17 and 23 of the Immigration and Passport Act, Mehul Choksi can only be deported to Antigua, the fugitive diamantaire’s counsel said on Thursday.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, Counsel for Choksi, while responding to ANI on reports of Choksi’s deportation directly to India, said it cannot be done.
In a statement, Advocate Aggarwal said, “As per the Indian Citizenship Act, Section 9, the moment Mehul Choksi acquired the citizenship of Antigua, he ceased to be a Citizen of India. Hence, legally, as per Immigration and Passport Act Section 17 and 23, he can be deported only to Antigua.”
He further added, “Moreover, as there is Antiguan High Court order restraining processing any request from India, my understanding is that he has to be sent back to Antigua only and there is no question of him being sent to India. There should be no speculation till one finds out from Mehul Choksi how he landed up in Dominica. My understanding is that his reaching Dominica is not voluntary.”
He further said that he thought it was ‘fishy’ at the moment, no one was looking into how exactly Choksi reached Dominica.
It has to be done legally, Choksi’s lawyer said further, adding that this was not a game of chess.
“We are dealing with a human being. Not a pawn that can be placed here or there and it cannot be on somebody’s desires and whims. Further, as per universal declaration of human rights there are international covenants on voluntary repatriation and a person can be deported to only the country of their citizenship,” added his lawyer.
In an exclusive interview to ANI on Wednesday, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who has been found in Dominica, will be repatriated to India, and Indian authorities are in touch with those in Dominica.
Browne said Dominica has agreed Choksi’s repatriation and Antigua will not accept him back. Browne said he has requested PM Skerrit and law enforcement in Dominica to not return Choksi to Antigua where he has legal and constitutional protection as a citizen.
Choksi is currently in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dominica. He had been living in Antigua but went missing two days ago. A massive manhunt was launched and an Interpol Yellow Notice was issued by Antigua and Barbuda. He was traced and captured in neighboring Dominica.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted in India for allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank, using letters of undertaking. (ANI)