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We will take all efforts to bring back Choksi to face justice in India: MEA

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 03, 2021

Engagement with Pfizer, Moderna and J&J on, but no clarity on indemnity

India will continue to make all efforts to bring fugitive diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, who is in the custody of the Dominican government, back to India to face justice, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

On the possibility of Choksi’s return to India, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India remained steadfast in its efforts to ensure that fugitives are brought back to the country to face justice. “We understand that Mehul Choksi is in the custody of Dominican authorities and certain legal proceedings are underway. We will continue to make all efforts to ensure that he is brought back to India,” he said at a press briefing on Thursday.

Bail denied

Meanwhile, a Dominica magistrate has denied bail to absconding diamond tycoon Mehul Choksi, who was arrested on May 23 for alleged illegal entry to the Caribbean island country

Choksi had fled India in 2017 after defrauding Punjab National Bank of an estimated ₹13,000 crore, together with his nephew Nirav Modi, using forged documents. Choksi subsequently applied for citizenship of Antigua & Barbuda and was granted citizenship under an investment programme. He went missing last month from Antigua and Barbuda and was detained in neighbouring Dominica for illegal entry.

Vaccine deal

The country remains engaged with US vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to procure Covid-19 vaccines, said Bagchi, but did not answer a query on whether India would give in to demands for indemnity from liability made by Pfizer and Moderna.

The spokesperson said that India has been making all efforts to augment availability of vaccines in India, whether through enhanced production in the country or through supply from abroad. “We remain engaged with US vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna as part of this effort,” he said.

India is also engaged with the US administration to ensure that necessary components and raw materials for vaccine production in India are readily available. “This issue was taken up most recently during External Affairs Minister’s visit to the US. It is in our mutual interest to combat the global pandemic by expediting vaccination efforts,” said Bagchi.

He added that India was awaiting further details on the US Government announcement of making available vaccines to other countries.

Noting that some countries had started the process of easing travel restrictions to India that were temporarily imposed at the start of the Covid-19 second wave, Bagchi said that India was hopeful that other countries too would soon do the same.

Published on June 03, 2021

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