Mehul Choksi Seeks Court Intervention to Prove He Is Not a Fugitive Economic Offender


Source: TIMES OF INDIA- Stating that he has been unable to return due to reasons beyond his control, absconding businessman Mehul Choksi moved a special court on Wednesday.

He has sought files relating to the suspension of his passport and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe against him in a bid to prove that he is not a Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO).

His plea said he neither left India to avoid criminal prosecution nor refused to return.The plea said the truth cannot be uncovered in the absence of the documents.

Choksi currently lives in Antigua and Barbuda where he holds citizenship. His plea said he left the country for a medical check-up and treatment much before registration of an FIR in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case in 2018 and was unaware of any prosecution being filed against him.

The PNB case involves the defrauding of the bank as well as money laundering. Choksi has said he could not return to India when summoned in 2018 as his passport had been suspended with the reason cited as ‘Security threat to India’.

“…in such circumstances, the stand of the Directorate of Enforcement that the applicant (Choksi) is not returning to India is vitiated as the applicant cannot be expected to return to India when his passport has been suspended,” the plea said.

Asking the court to summon the investigation file, Choksi’s plea said it would be in the interest of justice and fair play.

“It is not the job of the investigating agency to proceed with any preconceived mind and to place facts which only suit that hypothesis, but (it) is to investigate fairly, and if some credible material comes on record which goes to show the innocence of the accused persons, the investigating agency must immediately place the same on record of this court,” Choksi’s plea said.

It further said absence of such transparency at the level of the investigation will result in prejudice to the accused.

His plea said under the law, an FEO is defined as an accused who has left India to avoid criminal prosecution or on being abroad, refuses to return to the country to face criminal prosecution.

It said that neither of the two conditions were satisfied by the ED to declare him FEO. The court directed the ED to submit its reply.

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