The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday, 8 March, rubbished the ‘excuses’ given by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam accused Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi for not being able to return to India.
Modi and Choksi were summoned to appear before the agency on 7 March. But instead of appearing before the agency, the duo replied via emails with their reasons for not complying to the summons.
Earlier, Modi and Choksi were summoned to appear on 20 February, which they didn’t serve. The second summon was served only to Choksi to appear on 26 February, which he violated by not appearing before the agency.
"Both Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi have been asked to disclose their locations but they haven’t disclosed yet. CBI is not believing the excuses given by both of them." - Abhishek Dayal, Spokesperson, CBI
The CBI statement comes after Choksi, in his seven-page letter to the CBI, dated 7 March and accessed by The Quint, refused to appear before the agency on the grounds of “persisting health problems.”
On the other hand, Modi has not mentioned health problems as a reason for not appearing before the agency. Rather he has said that he is abroad for business and cannot come back since his passport has been suspended.
He said he had “a cardiac procedure which was conducted in the first week of February 2018,” adding that he was not allowed to travel.
Choksi wrote in the letter:
“The entire procedure could not be completed on all veins due to danger to kidney and therefore I am not allowed to travel for at least a period of four to six months.”
Modi and Choksi didn’t disclose his location in the letter, and instead requested the CBI to communicate with him via email or through his lawyer in India.
According to the CBI, Modi and Choksi are repeatedly violating the summons by not disclosing their locations. The CBI will once again reply to both via email and summon them to appear before the agency.
‘My Passport is Revoked, It Is Impossible for Me to Travel Back to India’: Choksi
After the PNB scam was unearthed, the passports of Choksi, his nephew Nirav Modi, and his family members were suspended. In the letter, Choksi said that he received an email from the Passport Office mentioning his passport was suspended on the ground that he was a “security threat to India.”
Taking this as a tool for not coming back to India, Choksi said that he has written to the Regional Passport Office in Mumbai “requesting them to revoke the suspension” because it is in violation of his constitutional rights.
“I further wish to point out that the Regional Passport Office Mumbai has not given me any explanation as to why my passport has been suspended and as to how I am a security threat to India. This goes to show that my passport has been suspended in a manner which violates my constitutional rights.”
Choksi Blames Media and Political Parties
Choksi blamed the media for portraying him as a convict, adding that media reports were in complete violation of his “fundamental rights” and was also denying him a “fair trial.” Some political parties are using his case as political vendetta, he said.
“The various political parties in India have been politicising the issue with a view to glorify their own interests. The entire reports being published in newspapers, various statements made by members of various political parties and the trial by media has therefore left me remediless and therefore a bias has been caused against me.”
The owner of jewellery chain Gitanjali said that he was not a “fugitive” but only traveled abroad for business and this was prior to the registration of the FIR against him.
The CBI had earlier communicated to Nirav Modi and Choksi to communicate with the Indian Embassy of the country where they were living to facilitate their return to India, since their passports were suspended.
To this, Choksi said:
“The unfair manner in which the investigation is being carried out is evident from the fact that you good self had directed me to approach the Embassy for a temporary travel document, knowing fully well that under no provision of law, a direction can be issued to me to go to an Embassy.”
The CBI and ED investigation has effected his business, and now he was worried about himself and his family, as his business associates have developed an “animosity” towards him.
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