HC rejects Mehul Choksi’s pleas against ED application seeking to declare him fugitive economic offender

The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed the petitions filed by businessman Mehul Choksi challenging the Enforcement Directorate’s application seeking to declare him a fugitive economic offender.

Choksi is an accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case worth over ?14,500 crore.

A single bench of Justice Sarang Kotwal said it did not find any infirmity in the application filed by the ED.

“Firstly, I do not find any infirmity in the verification (in the application) and even otherwise I find that all the requirements under section 4 of the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act and under Rule 3 of the FEO Rules are properly complied with in this case,” the HC said.

Choksi in his petitions had claimed several procedural lapses in the ED’s application.

Choksi had challenged an August 2019 order passed by a special court saying it would hear the application filed by the ED seeking to declare Choksi a fugitive economic offender.

ED had, in July 2018, filed the application seeking to declare Choksi a fugitive economic offender and confiscation of his properties.

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Choksi claimed the agency had not followed proper procedure before filing the application and, hence, it stands vitiated.

The bench, in its order, noted the application filed by ED was in the format laid down in the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Justice Kotwal observed the preamble of the FEO Act was significant as it states that this is an Act to provide for measures to deter fugitive economic offenders from evading the process of law in India by staying outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.

In January 2020, the High Court had granted a stay on the final order to be passed by the Special Court proceedings.

Justice Kotwal on Thursday vacated the stay.

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