In a major setback to India, the Dominica high court has granted bail to fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, allowing him to travel to Antigua and Barbuda for treatment of his neurological condition, local media there reported.
The high court granted a consent order by Choksi's legal team and the state's lawyer, permitting him to go to Antigua, where he has been staying as a citizen since 2018 after he left India, after depositing Eastern Caribbean Dollars 10,000 (approximately Rs 2.75 lakh as per exchange rate) as bail money to seek medical attention from a specialised neurologist, Antigua Breaking News reported.
The court has also stayed the ongoing trial before a magistrate for his alleged illegal entry into Dominica on May 23 till his return, it said.
"Dominica courts finally upheld the rule of law and rights of a human to be treated in the medical facilities of his choice.
“And, all attempts by various agencies did not bear fruits.
“There is a solace in saying that all clever foxes end up as fur coats," Choksi's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal told PTI.
The order has come as a major jolt to Indian efforts to bring back Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore scam in the Punjab National Bank, from Dominica where he was held for illegal entry after his mysterious disappearance from Antigua and Barbuda.
His lawyers had alleged that he was abducted from Antigua and Barbuda in an elaborate plot hatched by men of Indian origin and a mystery woman named Barbara Jabarica who had befriended him during last six months.
After news of Choksi being held in Dominica surfaced, India rushed a team of officials led by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) DIG Sharda Raut to make every effort to bring Choksi back on the basis of a Interpol Red Notice against him.
The effort was unsuccessful as Choksi's lawyers moved with unprecedented agility to file a Habeas Corpus petition before the Dominica high court which was admitted for hearing.
Their swift legal manoeuvres coupled with investigation into circumstances of his disappearance from Antigua blunted attempts of India to get Choksi deported from Dominica.
The high court directed Choksi to face trial before a magistrate court for illegal entry and was denied bail. However, he was kept at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital considering his medical condition.
The CBI did not offer any comments on the development.
Photograph: PTI Photo