Image: Republic TV
Speaking exclusively to Republic TV ahead of the hearing in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court on Wednesday, advocate Vijay Aggarwal admitted that his client Mehul Choksi's brother Chetan is in Dominica. As per Caribbean news outlet Associates Times, Chetan Chinubhai Choksi asked Dominica's Leader of Opposition Lennox Linton to issue statements in the favour of his brother in lieu of the 2,00,000 dollars token amount and funding for the upcoming general election. Dismissing this as a "cock and bull story", Aggarwal claimed that the Chetan Choksi cannot meet anyone as he is in quarantine.
Mehul Choksi's counsel Vijay Aggarwal remarked, "In Dominica, there is a quarantine protocol. Indeed, the brother of Mehul Choksi-Chetan Choksi has reached Dominica to ensure that his brother gets medical attention. He has nothing to do with the legal strategy and he is in compulsory quarantine. He is in the hotel quarantine facility. He cannot meet anyone. Nobody is going to risk life."
Weighing in on the Antigua and Barbuda PM Gaston Browne's notice dated October 14, 2019, seeking to deprive Choksi of his citizenship, Aggarwal noted, "On this letter itself, we have filed a petition in the Antigua court and we have got a stay. We have challenged this letter only on various legal grounds that the same gentleman calls Mr.Choksi names and then, he becomes the judge, jury, everything which is not permitted. Number two, we say that it is in the nature of being pre-judged. Number three, the letter does not give any details". Moreover, he clarified that no proceedings have started in this regard.
Hitting out at the Browne government for its stance on not taking back the PNB scam accused, the lawyer opined, "Somehow I feel that the constitutional functionaries in Antigua are failing in their duty to protect their own citizens. It is incorrect and we are very sure that we will raise all these issues in the requisite courts once we have Mehul Choksi back in Antigua. Can anybody at the moment deny that Mehul Choksi was, is and continues to be a citizen of Antigua? So he is entitled to constitutional protection. How can a country deprive him of it?"
Mehul Choksi is under the scanner of both the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate. Along with his nephew Nirav Modi, he has been accused of allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking. Owner of the Gitanjali group, a retail jewellery company, Choksi secured the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in November 2017 under the aegis of the Citizenship by Investment Programme and fled to the island nation in the first week of January 2018.
India formally sought Choksi's extradition in August 2018 underlining the principle of reciprocity, the principle of dual criminality, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption to which both countries are signatories. In 2019, Antigua and Barbuda PM Gaston Browne was quoted as saying that the citizenship of Mehul Choksi will be revoked and will be extradited to India once all his legal options are exhausted. An eight-member team of the CBI, the ED and the Ministry of External Affairs has reached Dominica ahead of the hearing to pursue the case for Choksi's deportation.