The criminal case of illegal entry against Indian diamantaire, Mehul Choksi, has been discontinued by acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Sherma Dalrymple.
The 63-year-old diamond tycoon, who gained citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda, is wanted by the India’s judicial authorities for allegedly cheating the Punjab National Bank of over two billion US dollars, one of India’s largest bank frauds in decades.
The circumstances surrounding his mysterious appearance in Dominica on May 24, 2021, at Toucari Beach, remains a mystery.
However, Choksi maintained that he was kidnapped, beaten, and unwillingly brought to Dominica, in an attempt to return him to Indian authorities, while the police claimed that he entered Dominica’s shores illegally and consequently charged him with that offense.
During his two-month stay in Dominica, Choksi was remanded in the custody of the police as a patient at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH) as he was bleeding in the brain among other medical conditions.
His attorneys subsequently filed for judicial review in the High Court for the alleged complaint and were also seeking judicial review for the decision of Minister Blackmoore to declare Choksi a prohibited immigrant in a letter dated May 25, 2021, pursuant to section 5(1)(f) of the Immigration and Passport Act.
Through their application, the attorneys were also asking the court to grant a permanent order staying the criminal charge brought against the Applicant [Choksi] for breach of section 27A of the Immigration and Passport Act and to prohibite the Chief Magistrate “whether by herself, or by, or through any Magistrate within the jurisdiction of Magistrate’s District “E” or otherwise from hearing, adjudicating or otherwise exercising any magisterial functions with respect to the criminal complaint against the Applicant.”
While in Dominica, Choksi’s health deteriorated and after several unsuccessful bail attempts, on July 12, 2021, High court Judge, Justice Bernie Stephenson granted bail in the sum of $10,000.00 to the accused to travel to Antigua and Barbuda for specialized medical attention, as recommended by medical authorities, which was not available in Dominica .
Since his departure from Dominica, Choksi has not returned and has publicly stated that this was unlikely due to his poor health.
However, the businessman will no longer have to answer to the charges as the acting DPP has issued a notice of discontinuance to the courts.
In the notice of which Dominica News Online (DNO) has since obtained a copy , Dalyrmple said her decision was in accordance with the provisions of section 72(2)(c) of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
“I do hereby discontinue the above mentioned proceedings against the said, Mehul Chinubhai Choksi,” the notice dated May 17, 2022, to the Chief Magistrate, stated.
Justice Stephenson was also made aware of the discontinuation of the matter at a hearing via Zoom today.
The Judge ordered the return of the EC$10,000.00 cash paid by Choksi which was required prior to his admission to bail in an effort to secure his appearance in Dominica for his illegal entry trial in the magistrate court.
Following the discontinuation of criminal proceedings in Dominica against the Indian-born businessman, Choksi’s spokesperson James Lynch issued a statement on his behalf expressing his relief on the latest development.
“Mr. Choksi is pleased that the Dominican Government has today dropped all charges against him for unlawful entry in May 2021. By doing so, they now recognise that there was never any case against him,” Lynch stated
He further averred that Choksi was forcibly removed from Antigua against his will by agents of the Indian State, viciously assaulted, and taken to Dominica by boat, where he was again unlawfully handed over to authorities for an offense he never committed.
“Mr. Choksi’s legal team continues to pursue all avenues for justice to redress the human rights violations committed against him,” Lynch said in the statement. “Mr. Choksi hopes that those responsible for his kidnapping from Antigua on May 23rd, 2021, will be brought to justice.”