New Delhi, Feb 24: The passports of absconding Indian businessman Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, involved in the $1.8 billion Punjab National Bank fraud, have been revoked, sources said on Saturday.
The action comes after the government issued notices to Modi and Choksi on February 16 seeking their explanations within a week’s time why their passports should not be revoked.
After the huge fraud came to light earlier this month, the External Affairs Ministry on February 16 suspended the passports of Modi and Choksi, who have fled the country.
“On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has today suspended the validity of passports of Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks u/s 10(A) of the Passports Act 1967,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi have been asked to respond within one week as to why their passports should not be impounded or revoked under Section 10 (3) (c) of the Passports Act 1967. If they fail to respond within the stipulated time it will be assumed that they have no response to offer and the MEA will go ahead with the revocation,” it added.
On Thursday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a media briefing that with the receipt of the notification, Modi was bound to reply within a stipulated time to the notice and the charges that have been explained to him.
“If he replies, then we go through that and if we don’t find it satisfactory, then of course the passport is revoked,” Kumar said. “If he does not reply, then again the same thing happens.”
Stating that such notifications are sent to postal addresses or emails, he said that in this particular case the notification has been sent to an email in India that Modi has shared with the authorities.