Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi has been detained for illegal entry into Dominica and arrangements will be made for him to be repatriated to Antigua, the Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs of Dominica said in a release.
"The Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs confirms that Mr. Mehul Choksi, citizen of India who is wanted by the Indian authorities, has been detained by law enforcement for illegal entry into Dominica," the statement said.
"The Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs is in communication with the authorities of Antigua and Barbuda to ascertain some facts into the status of his Antiguan citizenship. Once the information is provided by the Antiguan authorities, possible arrangements will be made for Mr. Mehul Choksi to be repatriated to Antigua," the statement added.
Earlier, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne asked neighbouring Dominica to hand the diamantaire over to India directly.
After news of Choksi's arrest in Dominica came on Tuesday night (local time), Browne told local media that he has given "clear instructions" to the Dominican authorities to repatriate Choksi to India.
Choksi will not have the same rights in Dominica as he has in Antigua and Barbuda, where he had been staying since 2018 after taking citizenship in 2017 under the Citizenship by Investment programme, Browne indicated.
The Prime Minister believes for this reason, it would be easy for Dominica to repatriate him directly to India, the report said.
Choksi, who had recently fled from Antigua and Barbuda, was captured after an Interpol Yellow Notice was issued against him.
However, legally, as per Section 17 and 23 of the Immigration and Passport Act, Mehul Choksi can only be deported to Antigua, the fugitive diamantaire's counsel said on Thursday.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, Counsel for Choksi, while responding to ANI on reports of Choksi's deportation directly to India, said it cannot be done.
In a statement, Advocate Aggarwal said, "As per the Indian Citizenship Act, Section 9, the moment Mehul Choksi acquired the citizenship of Antigua, he ceased to be a Citizen of India. Hence, legally, as per Immigration and Passport Act Section 17 and 23, he can be deported only to Antigua."
He further added, "Moreover, as there is Antiguan High Court order restraining processing any request from India, my understanding is that he has to be sent back to Antigua only and there is no question of him being sent to India. There should be no speculation till one finds out from Mehul Choksi how he landed up in Dominica. My understanding is that his reaching Dominica is not voluntary."
He further said that he thought it was 'fishy' at the moment, no one was looking into how exactly Choksi reached Dominica.
It has to be done legally, Choksi's lawyer said, adding that this was not a game of chess. "We are dealing with a human being. Not a pawn that can be placed here or there and it cannot be on somebody's desires and whims. Further, as per universal declaration of human rights there are international covenants on voluntary repatriation and a person can be deported to only the country of their citizenship," added his lawyer.