Absconding diamantaire Mehul Choksi is medically unfit to travel to India to depose before the court, his lawyer said, in a reply to the Enforcement Directorate’s plea.
ED’s plea seeks to declare Choksi a ‘fugitive economic offender’. Choksi is an accused in the PNB fraud case.
In a hearing on Saturday, Choksi’s lawyer told a Mumbai court that he was not fit to travel. So his statement can either be recorded through video conferencing or ED officers could go to Antigua and record his statement.
“They can also wait for three months. If his condition improves, he’ll come back to record his statement,” he added.
Choksi, earlier on October 30, told a special PMLA court that it was “medically impossible” for him to travel to India due to his health condition. He said he had neither left the country post the registration of the complaint against him by the CBI or the ED nor has he refused to return. He claimed that he has been unable to return due to his medical conditions.
Choksi said he had blocked arteries, diabetes and a clot in his brain since 2012. “It has resulted in multiple medical complications, making it extremely impossible for him to travel on long flights of 41 hours,” the application stated.
Choksi also opposed the ED plea to declare him a fugitive economic offender on various grounds, including maintenance of “status quo”, allegations of “fraud” against ED as well as permission to lead evidence and cross-examine witnesses before the plea is decided.
Similar claims were made by his nephew, Nirav Modi — another absconding diamantaire — in his application. Choksi and Modi are under investigation by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Mehul Choksi, who now has a citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, fled from India on January 4. He was in the USA till July 7. But before the agencies started the process to bring him back, he fled to Antigua and since then he is in the Carribean.
Antigua and Barbuda had assured they would consider India’s request of Mehul Choksi’s extradition.
The Antiguan authorities also confirmed about Mehul Choksi’s presence in Antigua and assured to help India in his extradition. Both Indian and Antiguan authorities have figured that Choksi’s extradition can take place under the provisions of Extradition Act.
In absence of a direct extradition treaty, Antigua’s status as a Commonwealth country will help in Mehul Choksi’s extradition.