By: Shilpa Sharma
INDIA faces a fresh hurdle in its attempts to bring back the fugitive Indian businessman Mehul Choksi for a legal trial, after a court restrained local authorities from removing him from Dominica.
Choksi, who is wanted in a £1.32 billion loan fraud case related to the Punjab National Bank in India, was captured in Dominica earlier this week after going missing from the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda on Sunday (23).
The court’s restraining order against his repatriation came after Choksi filed a habeas corpus petition against Dominican authorities, Vijay Aggarwal, his lawyer in India, said.
A habeas corpus petition determines whether detention is lawful.
The court has allowed Choksi access to legal assistance, Aggarwal said, adding that the case will be heard on Friday (28).
Choksi had been living in Antigua and Barbuda since 2018, where he had secured a passport, after fleeing India before the fraud came to light. He is one of the main defendants in the case.
After his detention in Dominica, Antigua refused to take him back and prime minister Gaston Browne said the country was in talks with the Dominican as well as Indian governments for his repatriation to India.
Indian police have filed fraud charges against Choksi, his nephew, Nirav Modi, and others in connection with their suspected involvement in fraudulent transactions that led to huge losses for India’s Punjab National Bank.
Meanwhile, Modi, currently lodged in a London jail, is contesting his extradition to India after repeated denial of his bail by courts.