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  India   All India  22 Jan 2019  PNB scam’s Choksi gives up Indian passport

PNB scam’s Choksi gives up Indian passport

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 22, 2019, 1:33 am IST
Updated : Jan 22, 2019, 1:33 am IST

It may be recalled that in September last year, Antigua had assured India of full cooperation in the extradition of Choksi to India.

Mehul Choksi
 Mehul Choksi

New Delhi: Government sources confirmed on Monday that Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam accused Mehul Choksi had surrendered his Indian passport to the high commission in Guyana. Whenever an Indian citizen acquires foreign nationality, he or she is expected to surrender his/her Indian passport, sources said, adding that India continues to pursue Choksi’s return with the Antiguan government through diplomatic and legal channels. India earlier sent a request to Antigua for the extradition of Choksi, who has obtained the citizenship of that Caribbean country.

On Monday, government sources said: “Mehul Choksi has surrendered his Indian passport to the high commission in Guyana. It may be kept in mind that whenever an Indian citizen acquires foreign nationality, he is expected to surrender his Indian passport. India continues to pursue Choksi’s return with the Government of Antigua through diplom-atic and legal channels.”

It may be recalled that in September last year, Antigua had assured India of full cooperation in the extradition of Choksi to India. Choksi is now a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda. That assurance was furnished by Antigua’s foreign minister Chet Greene to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during their meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Antigua has been examining India’s request for extradition of Choksi, with New Delhi having said in August that an “extradition arrangement” already exists between the two countries under a treaty that “provides the legal basis for extraditing offenders from each other’s jurisdiction”.

On August 3 last year, New Delhi had quietly issued a gazette notification that the provisions of the Extradition Act 1962 “shall apply with respect to Antigua and Barbuda with effect from 2001 i.e. when Antigua and Barbuda notified India as a Designated Commonwealth Country under the provision of its own Extradition Act”. This enabled New Delhi to seek Choksi’s extradition from Antigua under this already-existing arrangement.

As per Antigua’s own Extradition Act 1993, “a fugitive may be extradited to a designated Commonwealth country or a state with which there are general or special arrangement or a bilateral treaty”. Significantly, the Antiguan government way back in 2001 had notified India as a “designated Commonwealth country”.

The tiny Caribbean nation earlier claimed last year that it was told by Indian agencies that there was no adverse information against Choksi when it did a background check on the fugitive billionaire before granting him citizenship in 2017, according to a local media report.

But India had swiftly set the record straight, saying the Police Clearance Certificate was issued to Choksi by the Mumbai passport office for Antigua and Barbuda on March 16, 2017 since at that time there was a “clear police verification report available on his passport”. What New Delhi had essentially said earlier was that there was nothing incriminating/adverse against Choksi at that particular time since the scam had surfaced later.

Tags: punjab national bank scam, mehul choksi