first_imgPunjab National Bank (PNB) scam accused and fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi has filed an application before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court seeking a stay on the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe in his case.The 8-page application was filed by Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal on Monday. The application seeks a stay on the investigation by the ED, pointing out that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has directed the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to conduct probe in the PNB case.SFIO is the central government’s investigative agency that looks into corporate frauds in India.The application said that the central government has already assigned one agency (SFIO) to look into the case, so no other central government’s investigating agency (ED) can probe the case any further.Choksi’s lawyer said that the ED should hand over all relevant documents and records and it should not be allowed to proceed with the investigation any further. He further stated that Choksi and the bank are already negotiating and resolving the case, however, the ED is acting as a “spoilt-sport”.The court will next hear the matter on December 5.Aggarwal also argued that when Choksi left the country in February 2018, there was no First Information Report (FIR), no non bailable warrants and no case under Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO) against him.On his part, ED’s counsel Hiten Venegavkar told the court there were repeated occasions when Choksi was told to come and participate in the investigation. It was only after having failed at the attempts, an application under the FEO was issued against him.advertisementChoksi, who now has a citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, fled from India on January 4. He was in the USA till July 7. But before the agencies started the process to bring him back, he fled to Antigua and since then he is in the Carribean.Aggarwal argued that Choksi’s passport was suspended and he has a medical condition so he could not return to India.Earlier on November 17, Choksi moved an application before Mumbai special court offering to come back in three months if his health permits. During the hearing of ED application to declare Mehul Choksi as a ‘fugitive economic offender’, Choksi’s lawyer said that his client is suffering from various health ailments. He is ready to join the probe after three months if his health improves.Choksi said he had blocked arteries, diabetes and a clot in his brain since 2012. “It has resulted in multiple medical complications, making it extremely impossible for him to travel on long flights of 41 hours,” the application stated.The ED had seized Choksi’s assets worth over Rs 218 crore, including diamonds and flats abroad, in the nearly Rs 13,000 crore loan fraud case probe. India has made two separate extradition requests for Choksi – one from the CBI and the other by the Enforcement Directorate in August.ED’s counsel then opposed the application saying that Choksi’s health condition should be checked factually. The counsel said that there are some of the circumstances that have been created. Even when he is summoned he did not participate in the investigations. Every statement he is providing are different from each other.Similar claims were made by his nephew, Nirav Modi — another absconding diamantaire — in his application. Choksi and Modi are under investigation by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation.Antigua and Barbuda had assured they would consider India’s request of Mehul Choksi’s extradition.The Antiguan authorities also confirmed about Mehul Choksi’s presence in Antigua and assured to help India in his extradition. Both Indian and Antiguan authorities have figured that Choksi’s extradition can take place under the provisions of Extradition Act.In absence of a direct extradition treaty, Antigua’s status as a Commonwealth country will help in Mehul Choksi’s extradition.(With agency inputs)ALSO READ | Mehul Choksi aide who looked after his Hong Kong business arrested in KolkataALSO READ | Choksi is medically unfit to travel to India: Lawyer to courtALSO WATCH | My take: Mehul Choksi’s escape tells us how crooks can get away in Indialast_img