Mumbai: 'Reasons Beyond My Control Prevented Return To India,' Says Mehul Choksi

Mumbai: 'Reasons Beyond My Control Prevented Return To India,' Says Mehul Choksi

Choksi claimed that he would not be able to appear before the officer in view of the communication received by the Indian Government that his passport had been cancelled citing ‘threat to the security of India’

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Thursday, May 23, 2024, 11:15 PM IST
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Mehul Choksi | PTI file photo

Diamantaire Mehul Choksi, a key accused in the multi-crore PNB scam, has told a special court that he hasn't been able to return to India “due to reasons beyond his control” and hence cannot be declared a “fugitive economic offender”.

The accused has claimed that he didn't leave India to avoid criminal prosecution nor is he refusing to return to the country. He said his passport has been suspended by Indian authorities.

Choksi’s lawyers had on Wednesday moved a plea before the special court hearing the plea of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to declare Choksi a fugitive economic offender. In the plea, they have sought records from the passport authorities to submit the record related to his passport and evidence to show that Choksi knew about the cases having been filed against him in connection with the PNB fraud.

Choksi had left India on January 2, 2018, claiming he was heading for better medical treatment. The ED had claimed, “Evidence collected during investigation indicate that Choksi had anticipated that the bank fraud was going to be unearthed very soon and would be arrested by the investigating agencies for the fraud and therefore, he had tried to dispose of his properties before fleeing the country.”

The plea, however, stated that to declare him a fugitive economic offender and confiscate his properties, the agency has to satisfy two conditions – that Choksi has left the country to avoid criminal prosecution or being in abroad he has refused to return to India to face the criminal prosecution.

It is further stated that in February 2018, Choksi was asked to appear before the investigating officer of ED. In his reply, which is attached to the plea, Choksi had claimed that he would not be able to appear before the officer in view of the communication received by the Indian Government on February 18, 2018, that his passport had been cancelled citing ‘threat to the security of India’.

Besides, it is further stated in the plea that he had left India for his medical check-up and treatment much before registration of any FIR and/or ECIR and was not aware of any prosecution being filed against him, therefore, he has not left India to avoid criminal prosecution.”

The court has asked ED to file it reply and has now scheduled the hearing on June 3.

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