CBI asks Interpol to restore Red Notice against fugitive Choksi

The CBI asked an Interpol body to restore the Red Notice against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi terming its decision to drop his name from the list had “serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate and mistakes”. His name was removed in November 2022 by the Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF), a separate Interpol body which is “not under the control” of the Interpol Secretariat and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries where people can challenge decisions to declare them fugitives. The CCF subsequently clarified to the CBI that its decision “in no manner has any determination on any guilt or innocence of Choksi” for crimes he remains charged in India, the CBI said in a statement. “Based on mere imaginary conjunctures and unproven surmises, a five-member CCF chamber has taken a decision on the deletion of Red Notice, communicated in November 2022,” the CBI said. The agency broke its silence nearly four months after CCF’s decision was communicated to it in November 2022, nearly a month after India had organised a grand Interpol General Assembly. Attacking the government, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said while the ED and the CBI pursue Opposition leaders with “great vigour”, they allow a lifesaver to the wanted diamantaire. “ED-CBI for opposition leaders but release from Interpol for ‘our Mehul bhai’ of Modi ji. When Parliament can be stalled for ‘best friend’, then how can help for the ‘old friend’ be denied…,” Kharge said in a social media post. Choksi fled India in January 2018, days before the Rs 13,000-crore fraud was detected in the Punjab National Bank. At the request of the CBI and ED, Interpol included his name in the list of most wanted fugitives in December 2018.