Fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi exiting the magistrate's court in Roseau, Dominica on June 4, 2021 (Image: AP Photo/Clyde Jno Baptiste)
The Indian government is set to join the legal battle in the Dominica High Court to secure the extradition of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, reports said on June 12.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), along with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), has prepared a joint strategy to counter Choksi's arguments against his extradition to India.
The CBI will highlight Choksi's role in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam before the court, while the MEA will look to refute Choksi's claim of giving up his Indian citizenship, NDTV reported sources as saying.
The country's top investigation agency and the foreign ministry have filed two separate applications, the news channel said. If the pleas are accepted, former Solicitor General of India, Harish Salve, will argue for the Indian government before the court, the report added.
Also Read | Mehul Choksi denied bail by Dominica High Court
According to News 18, a team of Indian officials headed by CBI SP Sharda Raut has already reached Dominica. Top officials in the Intelligence Bureau told News18 that "Indian Investigation teams are in Dominica and he should surrender himself and join the investigation".
The hearing in Choksi's extradition case has been deferred to July by the high court. On June 11, the court denied bail to Choksi, saying he was a "flight risk".
Choksi, against whom non-bailable warrants have been issued in India, had been residing in Antigua and Barbados after he left India in early 2018, days before he was name as the main accused in the PNB scam along with his nephew Nirav Modi, who is fighting against extradition in London.
Choksi claimed citizenship of Antigua through an investment programme.
The efforts to extradite him gained pace after he was caught in the neighbouring Dominica, for "illegally entering the country", on May 25. The arrest came two days after he went missing from Antigua.
Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne has told local media that, as per his information, Choksi was caught in Dominica after he entered the country for a romantic trip with his "girlfriend".
Choksi's lawyers have, however, alleged that he was "beaten, abducted" and brought to Antigua by persons looking like Antiguan and Indian policemen.
A police complaint was filed by Choksi's legal team in Antigua on June 6, with the names of the alleged abductors reportedly being disclosed.