St Johns, Antigua: The court in Dominica has preponed Mehul Choksi hearing from July 23 to July 12 after his lawyers claimed he requires an urgent neurological treatment that cannot be facilitated in Dominica.
The fugitive had previously moved to the Dominica High Court and had sought a judicial review. The Dominica courts have denied him bail stating that it could not force any conditions which will assure it that he wouldn’t escape. Referring to him as a ‘flight risk’, the court has also noted the absence of a firm surety from his side.
Associates Times’ local correspondent in St Johns, Antigua and Barbuda talked to locals to understand what they think of the fugitive. After the thorough discussions, it appeared that besides Prime Minister Gaston Browne, even the general public wants him to be extradited back to India. It is noted that Mehul Choksi is wanted in a $2 billion fraud in India.
A local resident named Jennice Bird told Associates Times, “Why Choksi want to come back to Antigua, he should be sent back to India where he can get a better treatment
Another resident, who has roots to India but is an Antigua citizen told Associates Times on anonymity that the medical infrastructure in India is very advanced with top hospitals like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) New Delhi, the Christian Medical College Vellore and several other private hospitals giving world-class neurological diseases treatment.
Ronald Laville (34) added that on what grounds Choksi and his lawyers seek bail out from Dominica, even Antiguan residents also visit the US or the UK to treat neurological diseases. “Antigua and Barbuda do not have the comprehensive infrastructure to treat diseases related to brain or neurology. And, Choksi is walking freely in Dominica while holding a cell phone! It is disappointing for all of us as an outsider is flouting the laws of the Caribbean.”
“He can get his neuro treatment from India while facing justice, we must do our part to bring a man to a fair trial; after all, he is the one who looted the people of India and he must answer to them.”
India is also the world’s fifth-largest economy, and even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it produced its own vaccines using the best of medical facilities. Not only that, but India also assisting the Caribbean countries with the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine and Antigua and Barbuda also received a fair share of free vaccines from the country.
Another resident named Ray Johnson (54) said, “India is a country of almost 1.3 billion population which is a combined population of five countries such as the US, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Bangladesh diaspora. How can you compare the medical structure of such a big country with an Island country whose population is merely 80,000.”
Notably, The public healthcare structure in India enhanced due to a number of influences from the past 60 years, including British influence from the colonial period. The medical infrastructure in the country is now so massive that it keeps several European countries and the US, UK on edge in terms of treating certain diseases.
Mehul Choksi is an Indian fugitive who defrauded the country’s second-largest public lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) worth USD $2B. He is wanted by the top Indian agencies and Interpol also has a “red corner” notice issued by his name.
On May 23, 2021, he suspiciously absconded from his residence in Antigua and Barbuda; his lawyers alleged abduction. However several studies conducted by media revealed that he actually escaped from the possible extradition back to India.
After being captured by Dominican authorities two days later, on May 25, 2021, Mehul Choksi had been under remand. While his lawyers have been on their toes to get him out on bail, the court has referred to him as “flight danger”, stating that he might leave the country after getting bail.
Mehul Choksi also rented an apartment in Dominica to make the court in believing that he would remain in Dominica even after getting bail. But later, some investigative studies and sources revealed that a luxury boat with a Syrian born Antigua and Barbuda citizen on board was all set to take Mehul Choksi to an unidentified place to safeguard him from the impending criminal charges.
The Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had also declared that Mehul Choksi is a clever mind who left India before the first police report was given in his name.
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, also declared that he wants Choksi to be repatriated back to India. He also called him a “liability”.
Mehul Choksi was fighting two cases in Antigua and Barbuda court, one concerning his citizenship and the second about his extradition to India. The hearing of his extradition case was expected to be in November 2021, however, he managed to abscond before that because there were speculations that his extradition was inevitable.