The Delhi High Court today withdrew the interim protection from arrest and other coercive action it had granted to Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi in April last year in connection with a 2016 FIR lodged by the owner of one of its retail franchisees. The order by Justice Mukta Gupta came after the police told the court that Choksi was not cooperating with the investigation as he was not available at any of the addresses given on his behalf earlier.
Taking note of the submission made by Delhi Police, the court vacated its April 26, 2017 order by which the businessman was protected from any coercive action, including arrest, and which was extended till today. On February 20, the police had told the court that Choksi has been cooperating with the probe and if in future he does not, then withdrawal of the protection can be considered.
The court on that date had noted that till then “no effective investigation” had been carried out by the Delhi Police as both sides were trying to settle the issue. It had directed the police to probe the allegations of cheating levelled against the businessman in the FIR. Today, the police told the court that investigation was at a standstill as Choksi was not available at any of the addresses given on his behalf earlier.
Choksi is the uncle of billionaire Nirav Modi and the investigative agencies have swung into action against both of them for a Rs 11,500 crore scam of Punjab National Bank. The FIR against the diamond merchant was lodged on July 12, 2016 on a June 2, 2016 order of a metropolitan magistrate in Saket court here after a complaint was lodged by one Vaibhav Khuraniya alleging that his company RM Green Solutions had purchased a retail franchise of Gitanjali Jewellers from Choksi on an assurance of high returns.
The FIR, lodged in Amar Colony police station in south Delhi, had alleged that Khuraniya and his colleague Deepak Bansal had set up RM Green Solutions and got into an agreement with the Gitanjali Gems and Choksi who had assured them of stocks worth Rs three crore in the form of diamond jewellery and other gifts on a security deposit of Rs 1.5 crore.
It had also alleged that on the day of opening of the retail franchise store in Rajouri Garden in West Delhi in October 2013, the fraud came to light as they only received third-grade diamonds and other items, worth around Rs 50-70 lakh. Choksi, in his plea seeking quashing of the FIR, had claimed in the high court that the franchisee work was not done properly by the complainant and alleged that instead of jewellery, liquor was being vended from the same premises leading to a loss to Khuraniya.
The high court on April 27 last year had directed that no coercive steps be taken against the petitioner on the condition that he would participate in the investigation. Thereafter, on December 11, 2017, the high court had noted that the complainant and accused were going to try and negotiate a settlement. It had then asked them to appear before the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre.