Extradition among options India trying to get back Mehul Choksi
Another option would be initiating the legal process to prove that Mehul Choksi acquired Antigua citizenship to escape Indian law.
India is looking at two options to bring back Mehul Choksi, co-accused in the Rs 13,600-crore Punjab National Bank loan fraud, from Antigua and Barbuda and both could be reasonably long-drawn judicial processes, persons familiar with the development said.
A team of Indian officials, led by additional secretary in the external affairs ministry Manpreet Vohra, recently held discussions with the authorities of the Caribbean nation, apprising them about the ‘severity’ of the charges against Choski.
The first option is trying to get Choski, as an Antiguan citizen, extradited. Though there is no extradition treaty between India and Antigua and Barbuda, there are existing legal frameworks between the two nations, under which he can be extradited.
Under a statutory instrument (No 34/2001 Extradition Designated (Commonwealth Countries) Amendment order under section 7 of that country’s Extradition Act India is designated as a commonwealth country. As per the provision, Choksi can be extradited to India, a commonwealth country. India, too, designated Antigua and Barbuda a commonwealth country under its extradition treaty early this month. “Extradition is a judicial process. So, we need to prove that the crime, for which he is wanted in India, falls under the crimes under which an Antiguan national can be extradited to India,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
Another option would be initiating the legal process to prove that Choksi acquired the Antigua citizenship to escape Indian law.
Another official said this could be “longer route option” as the moot demand in this approach would be seeking to cancel Choski’s citizenship.
“If we have to exercise that option, Choksi can move court... And cancelling citizenship is another issue of judicial back and forth,” the official said.