By Shermain Bique-Charles
Indian fugitive Mehul Choksi is expected to return to court on July 06th, after Dominican Chief Magistrate Candia Carrette-George adjourned his matter, saying clearly that she could not grant a request for a private doctor of his choice.
Choksi, who is facing illegal entry charges in Dominica has been hospitalised since May 30, undergoing treatment for a laundry list of ailments, including a blood clot to his head, hematoma, blood pressure, heart disease and hypertension.
He failed to show up for his hearing on June 26th with one of his attorneys, Zena Moore-Dyer, producing another medical certificate to the court stating that Choksi is still unwell and unfit to attend court.
Dyer made an application to the court for the accused to receive medical treatment from a medical doctor of his choice, but her request was challenged by Attorney Lennox Lawrence; the lead counsel for the State.
Lawrence argued that this request is for the High Court, since the Magistrate does not have jurisdiction to hear and rule on such applications.
Choksi’s attorney objected, claiming that the Magistrates court is governed by the Constitution and the objection hinges on his Right to Life enshrined in the Constitution.
Dyer insisted too, it would be an abuse of the process of the court for the defendant to be denied an opportunity for a medical doctor of his choice.
“This is a man who is bleeding in his brain, so this request for him to seek a second opinion should be granted. We do this all the time in Dominica…” she argued in court.
Furthermore, Dyer questioned the strange handling of this particular court matter compared to similar cases of illegal entry in Dominica.
“Why is there a difference in this court when it comes to this man? He is charged with a summary misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of only one year in prison or a fine of $5000.00, so why is he being treated differently, and why is he being deprived of his constitutional rights?”
However, Lawrence said the application was a colossal abuse of the court, saying that due to “skillful maneuvering” Choksi is still at the hospital, all in an attempt, in his opinion, to delay the process of justice.
He said the right to a doctor of your choice does not come under the provision of the Right to Life, and the Magistrates court is not a Constitutional court, hence this application should be heard in the High Court.
Magistrate Carrette-George then ruled that she does not have the jurisdiction to grant such a request and encouraged the defense attorneys to file the application in the High Court.
Choksi entered Dominica May 25 2021. The diamantaire’s lawyers continue to allege that he was abducted from Jolly Harbour through a joint mission carried out by the Indian and Antiguan authorities.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has questioned the claims, stating that no “conclusive evidence” has been found to prove that Mehul Choksi was forcefully taken away from the country.
The 62-year-old is wanted by the Crime Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Enforcement (ED) and other top Indian investigative bodies for defrauding the Punjab National Bank of some $2 billion dollars.