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PNB scam: ‘Choksi may be deported to India soon,’ says Harish Salve

PNB scam: ‘Choksi may be deported to India soon,’ says Harish Salve


Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: With the Dominica High Court scheduled to hear Mehul Choksi’s case on June 11, and the Antiguan government reaching the court to revoke his citizenship, eminent Indian lawyer Harish Salve has said that the absconding diamantaire could be brought back to the country within weeks.

The former Solicitor-General, who had also fought in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the case of Indian Navy’s retired officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s illegal detention in Pakistan, is currently advising the Government of India in the Mehul Choksi case, media reported on Wednesday.

“I don’t have that kind of experience in Dominican courts, but hopefully we should be taking weeks rather than months,” Salve told a TV news channel.

The government has approached Salve to fight the deportation case in Dominica but has not made any announcement on engaging him in the case yet, according to reports.

“The government needed some guidance on how to present the case and how to deal with it. They reached out and I’ve been helping,” said Salve.

“He (Mehul Choksi) has made a statement saying that there no proceedings pending against him in India. We’re going to disabuse the court of this idea”, he added.

The 62-year-old fugitive, charged with masterminding the Rs.13,500 crore loan scam involving Punjab National Bank (PNB), had mysteriously gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen.

He was detained in neighboring island country Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumored girlfriend. His lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat.

Choksi claimed that he was attacked by eight to 10 men while he was on his way to meet a woman named Barbara Jabarica, with whom he had  ‘friendly terms’. He also alleged that Barbara did not attempt to help him while he was being beaten up and placed on small watercraft. He said the manner in which she conducted herself indicated that “she was an integral part of this entire scheme to kidnap him”.

Barbara, however, junked Choksi’s claims, saying that she had no idea about his kidnapping. She also exposed his lies after Choksi alleged that the mystery woman was involved in his abduction, and said he had actually invited her to meet in Cuba next time. She said it was he who had met her in Antigua as “Raj” and that she did not know his real name while he was sending her messages to join his diamond business, according to media reports.

The woman confirmed that she met Choksi over breakfast on the day when he was allegedly kidnapped but she left for the airport and was on the other side of the island on that day.

Meanwhile, reports said the Antiguan government had approached the court requesting revocation of his citizenship which was given to him under false pretenses.

“The Antiguan Govt has moved the court saying it wanted to revoke citizenship given to Choksi under false pretenses”, said the reports.

Mehul Choksi is wanted in India in connection with the Rs 13,500-crore fraud in the Punjab National Bank. The fugitive diamantaire, who has been in Dominica for around two weeks, is facing legal proceedings. He had gone missing from Antigua on May 23 and was caught in Dominica.

He was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica after he allegedly escaped from Antigua and Barbuda in a possible attempt to evade extradition to India. Dominica High Court has adjourned the bail hearing of the fugitive diamond merchant till June 11.

His nephew Nirav Modi, also an accused in the same scam, is in a London jail fighting his case against deportation to India.