India on Monday asserted that there were provisions under the Extradition Act, 1993, of Antigua and Barbuda which provided the legal basis for extraditing fugitive Indian diamond merchant Mehul Choksi.
“As per the provisions of the Extradition Act, 1993 of Antigua and Barbuda, a fugitive may be extradited to a designated Commonwealth country with which there are general or special arrangement or a bilateral treaty. The government of Antigua and Barbuda notified India as a designated Commonwealth country in 2001,” official sources here said, refuting reports that Choksi could not be extradited now that he had been granted citizenship of that country.
Sources noted that the gazette notification issued by India on 3 August directed that the provisions of Extradition Act, 1962, shall apply with respect to Antigua and Barbuda with effect from 2001 i.e. when it notified India as designated Commonwealth country under the provision of its own Extradition Act.
“These notifications constitute an extradition arrangement between India and Antigua and Barbuda under their Extradition Act of 1993 and provides the legal basis for extraditing offenders from each other’s jurisdiction,’’ the sources added.
India last week formally handed over to the authorities in Antigua and Barbuda the request for bringing back Choksi, one of the key accused in the case relating to the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.
India does not have an existing bilateral treaty with Antigua and Barbuda, which granted citizenship to Choksi in November 2017 under its Citizenship by Investment Programme.
An Antiguan passport allows Mehul Choksi visa-free travel to more than 130 countries.
The Gazette of India on Monday published an External Affairs Ministry notification dated 3 August saying that provisions of the Extradition Act, 1962, shall apply to Antigua and Barbuda as a designated Commonwealth country.