The CBI on Tuesday said it had asked Interpol to restore the Red Notice against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud.
On Monday, Interpol withdrew the Red Notice issued against the key accused in the loan fraud case, the development seen as a big blow to India’s efforts to bring Choksi back to face the law. Interpol had opened the notice against Choksi in 2018 following a request from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
The CBI on Tuesday said it had taken up with the Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files the “serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate and mistakes committed by the CCF” in taking the “unfounded and perfunctory” decision.
“The CBI continues to exercise available remedial and appellate options within Interpol for rectification of this faulty decision and for restoration of the Red Notice,” the agency said.
The Red Notice is the highest form of alert issued by Interpol to law-enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action.
Its withdrawal allows Choksi to freely fly to any country. It will also make it difficult for India to locate the fugitive. “Interpol’s order is a big embarrassment for the Indian government,” a former CBI director told The Telegraph.
Government sources said Interpol withdrew the Red Notice following a petition by Choksi in which he alleged that in May 2021 he was abducted from Antigua to Dominica in a boat.
He said some Indian agents plotted the abduction to take him back to India where he would not receive a fair trial.
Choksi was referred to as “Mehul Bhai” by Narendra Modi at the Prime Minister’s residence when he attended an event there in 2015.