Court reserves order on Mehul Choksi’s pleas against declaring him fugitive

by The Technical Blogs


The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved its order on five petitions filed by businessman Mehul Choksi against the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) proceedings to declare him a fugitive economic offender (FEO). Choksi is an accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case along with his nephew Nirav Modi.

While Nirav Modi was already declared an FEO, the proceedings against Choksi were pending due to a stay by the high court. In August, the ED approached the high court seeking to review the stay on the proceedings against Mehul Choksi. It pointed out that the accused businessman fled outside the territorial jurisdiction of India.


The ED, in 2019, moved an application before a PMLA court seeking to declare Choksi as an FEO under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

In 2020, the bench of Justice AM Badar of the Bombay High Court said that the PMLA court can carry on with the proceedings on the ED’s application, but it shall not pass any final order at the moment. After more than three years, the ED requested the court to hear Choksi’s plea at the earliest as the lower court could not proceed with the case until the stay is lifted.

The five petitions filed by Choksi pointed to certain procedural lapses and raised issues to argue that he cannot be declared an FEO.


Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing with Rahul Agarwal and Yash Agarwal for Choksi, argued that he was already a citizen of Antigua on November 16, 2017 and the FIR against him was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation only on February 15, 2018. Mehul Choksi currently resides in Antigua.

“He had already given up the citizenship of India, so how is the law of this country applicable to him? He says he is not a citizen here, but they say that he is. It is contested,” submitted Aggarwal. He added that Choksi was granted Antigua’s citizenship after a verification process.

“It is based on the verification certificate that he has been given citizenship by them there. It is the police themselves who gave a certificate to show that he had no pending cases against him,” said Aggarwal.

Advocate Hiten Venegaonkar appearing for the ED, submitted that FEO proceedings are only to make sure that Mehul Choksi does not flee from the country. He added that the proceedings to confiscate Choksi’s properties would only begin after a court declares him an FEO.

Venegaonkar told the court that the documents required for the declaration include a non-bailable warrant, a statement of reasons to believe that Choksi is an FEO and the efforts that the probe agency had taken to bring him back to India.

However, Mehul Choksi’s lawyer argued that evidence is required for the proceedings and the burden of proof in establishing that the accused is an FEO lies with the agency.

After hearing both sides, the bench reserved its order and said it would come to a decision at the earliest. The court is also scheduled to hear more petitions of Choksi’s in October.

Edited By:

chingkheinganbi mayengbam

Published On:

Sep 11, 2023


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