The removal of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s name from the Interpol database of Red Notices has drawn condemnation from the Opposition parties in India, while the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought the restoration of the notice.
GS III: Security challenges
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is the case against Mehul Choksi?
- About Interpol
- What is a Red Notice?
- Is an RN a warrant of arrest?
What is the case against Mehul Choksi?
- Mehul Choksi is the owner of Gitanjali Group, a jewellery firm with 4,000 stores in India.
- He, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, are wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam. Choksi and Modi are accused of conniving with bank officials to have fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoU) and Foreign Letters of Credit issued to companies owned by them.
- In this case, no securities were kept by the PNB before issuing the LoUs.
- The case came to light in January 2018, when the PNB submitted a fraud report to the Reserve Bank of India. CBI filed an FIR in the case a week later. By this time, Choksi had already fled the country.
- Choksi is wanted in India for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and financial misappropriation. An arrest warrant has been issued against him.
- Choksi had acquired citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 and was living there from 2018.
- However, he went missing from Antigua and Barbuda on May 23, 2021, and was soon caught in Dominica. While Choksi claimed he was kidnapped, he was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica.
- In May 2022, Dominica dropped these charges against him.
- The Red Notice was issued against Choksi in December 2018 after a request from the CBI and Enforcement Directorate. His appeals against the decision were rejected in 2020.
- The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO), commonly known as INTERPOL, is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control.
- Headquartered in Lyon, it has seven regional bureaus worldwide and a National Central Bureau in all 194 member states, making it the world’s largest police organization.
- INTERPOL provides investigative support, expertise, and training to law enforcement worldwide, focusing on three major areas of transnational crime: terrorism, cybercrime, and organized crime.
- Its broad mandate covers virtually every kind of crime, including crimes against humanity, child pornography, drug trafficking and production, political corruption, copyright infringement, and white-collar crime.
- The agency also facilitates co-operation among national law enforcement institutions through criminal databases and communications networks.
- Contrary to popular belief, INTERPOL is itself not a law enforcement agency.
- INTERPOL is mostly funded by annual contributions by member police forces in 181 countries.
- It is governed by a General Assembly, composed of all member countries, which elects the Executive Committee and the President.
- Pursuant to its charter, INTERPOL seeks to remain politically neutral in fulfilling its mandate, as it is barred from interventions or activities of a political, military, religious, or racial nature or involving itself in disputes over such matters.
- The agency operates in four languages: Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the nodal agency in the INTERPOL for India.
What is a Red Notice?
- Criminals or suspects often flee to other countries to evade facing justice.
- A Red Corner Notice, or Red Notice (RN) alerts police forces across the world about fugitives who are wanted internationally.
- RNs contain information that helps identify wanted persons, such as their names, dates of birth, nationality, and physical attributes such as the colour of their hair and eyes, as well as pictures and biometric data such as fingerprints, if they are available. RNs also mention the crime(s) they are wanted for.
- An RN is published by Interpol at the request of a member country.
- The fugitives may be wanted for prosecution or to serve a sentence.
- The country issuing the request need not be the home country of the fugitive; Interpol acts on the request of a country where the alleged crime has been committed.
- These RNs are restricted for use by law enforcement authorities only.
- An RN is published on Interpol’s website only in cases where the help of the public is needed to locate an individual, or if those individuals pose a threat to public safety.
Is an RN a warrant of arrest?
- An RN is only an international wanted persons’ notice; it is not an international arrest warrant.
- Interpol itself does not want individuals; they are wanted by a country or an international tribunal.
- This means the Interpol cannot compel law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest the subject of an RN.
- It is up to individual member countries to decide what legal value to give to an RN, and the authority of their national law enforcement officers to make arrests.
- Every Red Notice request is checked by a specialised task force to ensure it is compliant with (Interpol) rules.
- The Interpol argues that an RN is issued only after a competent court has taken cognisance of a chargesheet against the fugitive.
-Source: Indian Express