New Delhi: As fugitive Mehul Choksi broke his silence on Tuesday portraying himself as a victim of baseless allegations, his clarifications seem to have emanated from the fact that the Antiguan authorities have started vetting the Indian extradition pleas.
Sources have told CNN News18 that the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) who was on vacation resumed work last week and started studying the two extradition requests made by India.
Ministry of External Affairs made the first extradition plea on behalf of CBI on the August 3. It was personally handed over by Additional Secretary (CPV) Manpreet Vohra. The second request was made on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on August 25 by Indian High Commissioner V Mahalingam. Both these requests are being pursued simultaneously.
Once examined by the DPP, the report will be submitted to the Attorney General, Steadroy Benjamin. He will then forward it to the Foreign Minister Charles Fernandez who will take a final call on the matter, explained a source privy to the developments.
Over the last fortnight the Indian High Commissioner V Mahalingam has met the Antiguan Attorney General twice over the Mehul Choksi issue. They met on August 30 in Antigua when the High Commissioner went from Georgetown. The other meeting happened on September 4 in Guyana.
Meanwhile, sources say High Commissioner Mahalingam is regularly in touch with the Antiguan authorities for update on the matter. He has been assured that “it is being dealt with at top priority by the DPP.”
Even as Antiguan opposition leader Giselle Isaac has alleged that the Gaston Browne government is trying to shield Mehul Choksi, the Indian side has been assured that the extradition request is “under active consideration.”
Isaac, chairperson of the United Progressive Party, had told CNN News 18 in July that “PM Browne is determined to keep Choksi here as long as possible.”
Meanwhile, statements made by Choksi in his defence have been found to be riddled with disinformation. He told news agency ANI that there was no question of surrendering the passport as it was revoked in February this year. However, a copy of Mehul Choksi’s passport with CNN News 18 reveals his Antiguan passport was issued on 16th November, 2017.
This means Choksi was duty bound to surrender his India passport as dual citizenship is not allowed by India. Moreover, he was not rendered immobile by the passport revocation, as he claims, since he already had and Antiguan passport in his possession by that time.