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CBI asks Interpol to restore red notice against Mehul Choksi

The CBI has asked an Interpol body to restore the Red Notice against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi terming its earlier decision to drop his name from the list had "serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate and mistakes". The Commission for Control of Interpol's Files (CCF) which had removed Choksi's name from the list of fugitives based on his appeal last year is 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. Based on repeated appeals from Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,000 crore bank fraud in Punjab National Bank and is holed in Antigua and Barbuda after fleeing from India in 2018, the CCF removed his name from the Red Notice list in November 2022, the CBI said in a statement.

The CBI statement came a day after the media reported the CCF decision causing a huge political uproar.The agency broke its silence nearly four months after CCF’s decision to drop Choksi from the wanted list was received by it in November 2022, nearly a month after India had organised a grand Interpol General Assembly, it said. The CCF which had rejected two previous appeals of Choksi — in 2018, to not publish his name on the Red Notice list and in 2020, to remove his name from the list –agreed with his fresh plea in 2022, a year after an alleged abduction attempt from Antigua and Barbuda, the agency said.Red Notice is the highest level of alert by the 195-member strong International Police cooperation organisation Interpol to locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. “The CBI continues to exercise available remedial and appellate options within INTERPOL for rectification of this faulty decision and for restoration of Red Notice,” it said.

Earlier, the Congress  hit out at the BJP-led government over fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi's removal from the Interpol database of Red Notices, saying while the Opposition was being targeted by the Enforcement Directorate and CBI, its "friend" was being let off. The party president Mallikarjun Kharge said talk of patriotism by those giving "protection" to such people is a "joke". In a tweet, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said, "'Vipaksh ko ED, CBI, Mitr ko rihaai' (ED, CBI for the Opposition, let off for friend)." "'Modani' model matlab pehle looto, phir bin sazaa ke chooto' (Modani model means first loot and then go scott-free without punishment)," he said.

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