HC junks Choksi's pleas challenging ED move to label him fugitive economic offender

National |  IANS  | Published :

Mumbai, Sep 21 (IANS) The Bombay High Court has rejected four petitions filed by absconding diamantaire Mehul Choksi challenging the ED’s move to declare him a fugitive economic offender.

Justice SV Kotwal delivered his verdict in Choksi’s plea here on Thursday, alleging procedural lapses and challenging the ED’s applications seeking to label him a fugitive economic offender (FEO).

The ED had moved a Special PMLA Court with the plea which would pave the way to confiscate Choksi’s properties under Section 4 and 12 of the FEO Act, 2018.

The law stipulates that any person can be declared FEO if he faces a warrant for offences involving an amount of Rs 100-crore or above, or if the person has left the country or is unwilling to return.

Choksi, his nephew Nirav Modi and others are accused in the infamous Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam that erupted in January 2018.

The HC had stayed the final order to be passed by the Special Court in January 2020, but in August the ED moved the HC seeking a review of the stay order as Choksi had already fled the country.

The ED’s lawyer Hiten Venegaonkar argued that owing to the stay, Choksi’s prosecution was pending and the Special Court was unable to hear the matter afresh owing to the time lapse of three years.

Choksi’s lawyers Vijay Aggarwal and Rahul Agarwal contended that Choksi left India much before any FIR was lodged against him, and not to escape any criminal proceedings.

The defence team submitted that he was not refusing to return, but was unable to do so owing to his medical condition that prevented him from travelling.

They pointed out that Choksi, 64, now a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean Isles, was granted bail two years ago to get specialised medical attention for his neurological issues.

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