New Delhi [India]: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is yet to hear officially from the Antiguan government on the revocation of Mehul Choksi’s citizenship, and will make a move only after the island nation initiates internal process on the matter, government sources said on Tuesday.
“India waits for Antigua’s internal process of revoking citizenship. Only after that extradition process can start separately. India continues to engage with Antigua. The MEA is yet to hear officially from the Antiguan government about revoking of the citizenship,” they said.
The response after Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the citizenship of the fugitive diamond merchant will be rescinded and he will be extradited to India once his legal options are exhausted.
“His citizenship was processed and he got through. But the reality is his citizenship will be revoked and he will be repatriated to India. So there is recourse. It is not a case that we are trying to provide any safe harbour for criminals, for those who are involved in financial crimes,” a local daily, Antigua Observer, quoted Browne as saying.
“We have to allow for due process. He has a matter before the court and as we said to the Indian government, criminals have fundamental rights. Choksi has a right to go to court and defend his position. But I can assure you that after he has exhausted all of his legal options, he will be extradited,” he added.
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar refused to answer a query on the reports on the matter. “I do not have information on this matter, I would not like to comment on it,” he told reporters.
Choksi, who fled the country after the PNB scam came to light in January last year, had acquired the citizenship of Antigua reportedly on payment of a huge sum as a fee.