Mehul Choksi still an Indian citizen: Indian authorities

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The Indian authorities have described fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in India in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case as an Indian citizen in its affidavit filed in Dominican High Court, saying that his application for renunciation of citizenship was “rejected”.

And noted that he is therefore erroneously claiming renunciation of citizenship under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The 14-page affidavit filed on June 8 said “the Indian citizenship of Mr MC (Mehul Choksi) has still not ceased as on date and therefore, his claim of renunciation of Indian citizenship is contrary to the laws in India as is completely erroneous”, adding, “the claim of Choksi being bogus, this Honourable court may kindly reject the said erroneous claim at the threshold”.

It further pointed out that Choksi had submitted his Indian passport to Indian High Commission in Georgetown, Guyana, for renouncing his Indian citizenship on December 14, 2018.

“Under Section 8 of the Indian citizenship act, 1955 the declaration of renunciation should be registered and only then a person shall cease to be a citizen of India. Read with Rule 38 of the act, the declaration of registration has to be made to India’s Ministry of Home Affairs through the Indian mission,” it said.

The affidavit further stated that while Choksi did submit his passport, the Indian Home Ministry on January 29, 2019 “found deficiencies in the declaration” and also “noted that Choksi was an economic fugitive offender” advising Indian mission in Guyana to “consider the rejection of his declaration of renunciation”.

The affidavit also pointed out that the Ministry of External Affairs had also in a letter dated October 15, 2019, confirmed that his application of renunciation stood rejected by the Indian High Commission in Guyana and had communicated him on March 15, 2019.

The affidavit stated, “no entries regarding the application for surrender of Indian nationality were made in the consular register of the mission”. This was further confirmed by the MHA in its official memorandum on May 31, 2021.

It said that Choksi’s Indian Passport, number–Z3396732 was issued on September 10, 2015 from Mumbai. He acquired his Antigua and Barbuda nationality on November 16, 2017 with passport number B007713.

The affidavit also said that “concerned authorities may be directed to immediately transfer/deport/handover Choksi to the Indian authorities”.

It also said that India has already raised the issue of cancellation of citizenship of Choksi granted by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda on the grounds that citizenship was fraudulently obtained by Choksi.

The affidavit was filed by consular officer at the High Commission of India to the Commonwealth of Dominica.

It said Choksi is wanted by Indian law enforcement agencies for investigation of the crime committed by him in India.

The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing the PNB bank fraud case against Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi.

Choksi went missing from Antigua and Barbuda on May 23, sparking a massive manhunt. He was captured in Dominica on May 26, and faces charges of illegal entry.

He had taken the citizenship of Antigua in 2017 and left India on January 4, 2018 days before the case came to light.

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