The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday said that it has challenged the decision to delete Mehul Chinubhai Choksi‘s name from the Interpol database of Red Notices. The 63-year-old diamantaire is wanted in India in connection with a Rs 13,000-crore fraud in the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The CBI said that it is exercising available remedial and appellate options within Interpol for the restoration of Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Choksi. The fugitive businessman had gone missing from Antigua on May 23, 2021, and was soon caught in Dominica. He was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica.
The CBI has asked the Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) for the restoration of Red Notice against Choksi. The Interpol had opened a Red Notice against Choksi in 2018 on a request from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. His appeals against the decision were rejected in 2020.
The investigative agency claims that a five-member CCF chamber took a decision to delete the red notice, communicated in November 2022. As per Interpol’s website, the CCF is an independent body, officially responsible for ensuring that the processing of personal data by Interpol complies with the applicable rules.
Following multiple representations from Choksi’s side since 2018, the CCF deleted the red notice, which the CBI claims is based on “mere imaginary conjunctures and unproven surmises.”
The CCF has since clarified to the CBI that this decision has no determination on any guilt or innocence of Choksi for crimes he remains charged with in India.
“CCF has reiterated that it has not established factual certainties and there is no factual finding in their decision that Mehul Chinubhai Choksi will not have fair trial. Based on new information and serious errors in the decision, CBI is taking steps for the decision of CCF to be revised,” the CBI said in a statement.
It may be noted that an Interpol Red Notice is neither a pre requisite nor a requirement for extradition proceedings, it added.
Notably, Red Corner Notices are issued against fugitives and is considered as a request to law enforcement agencies across the world to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.
On Tuesday, Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said that the decision of Interpol to take off the Red Corner Notice (RCN) was the result of efforts of his legal team on the genuine claim of the “kidnapping” of his client Choksi.
Ultimately, truth has prevailed, the advocate said, adding, “as the kidnapping attempt of my client is not approved by the international community, RCN issued against my client by Interpol has been removed”.