NEW DELHI: In a development that will make the extradition of wanted fugitive Mehul Choksi to India more difficult and a lengthy process, the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda recently dismissed the application filed by local law office and the police officials in which they had said that they had no duty to investigate Choksi’s alleged kidnapping that took place in May 2021, which he claims was done on the orders of the Indian agencies.
Choksi, in February 2022, had filed a case in the High Court in which he had claimed that the Antiguan police were not investigating his kidnapping effectively and that they were under a duty to do so. In its reply, the Antiguan government, through the law department and the police department, had said that no such duty existed for them.
However, on 3 March, Justice Robertson, while deciding on the case and dismissing the arguments of the Antiguan government, directed the Antiguan authorities to file their responses on their failure to investigate abduction and torture of Choksi.
This development has come as a double whammy for the Indian agencies. In October 2022, the INTERPOL had decided to delete the Red Corner Lookout Notice that it had issued against Choksi in December 2018 on the request made by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). While the INTERPOL wanted list carries the details of Nirav Modi, another accused in the same Rs 12,500 crore PNB scam, the name of Choksi is not there.
Sources said that the primary decision of the INTERPOL to delete the Red Corner Notice against Choksi was based on his alleged abduction attempts. The INTERPOL, while deleting the said notice, stated, “There is credible possibility that the applicant’s abduction from Antigua to Dominica had the ultimate purpose of deporting the applicant to India,” and talked about “the risks the Applicant would face if returned to India, in terms of receiving a fair trial or treatment”.
Responses from INTERPOL and Choksi’s lawyers were awaited until the time the story went to press. It is pertinent to mention that The Sunday Guardian in its June 2021 story (Is Barbara Jarabik a part of Choksi’s plan?) had written that the events that led to Choksi’s alleged abduction and subsequent developments were a part of Choksi’s plan to stop his extradition to India by influencing the INTERPOL.
In May 2021, Choksi, who fled India in January 2018, and became the citizen of Antigua, was allegedly abducted by a group of individuals from near his home in Antigua after which he forced aboard a vessel that took him to Dominica.
As per Choksi’s claims, his kidnappers were working on behalf of the Indian government. The Antiguan police had named Gurdip Bath, Barbara Jarabik, Gurmit Singh, Gurjit Bhandal and Leslie Farrow-Guy as the accused in the case.
In January, The Sunday Guardian, while quoting Kenneth Rijock, a financial crimes expert based in Miami, Florida, and vast experience of operating in the Caribbean countries, including Antigua where Choksi is presently staying, had written about how Choksi was allegedly indulging in bribing Antigua’s top offices, including politicians and members of the judiciary to escape extradition to India.