Atul Gupta’s bid to obtain a new South African passport has been shot down by the High Court in Pretoria, which said the controversial businessman is a fugitive from justice.
He was also ordered to pay the costs of the court application.
Atul Gupta, with his brothers Ajay and Rajesh, fled South Africa to Dubai after the family was exposed as being integral to the state capture project during Jacob Zuma’s presidency.
Atul’s application for a passport
In September 2018, having already left the country, Atul applied for a new South African passport at the Consul General in Dubai.
He claimed he had a constitutional right to a South African passport as a citizen of the country.
The Department of Home Affairs, however, refused to give Gupta a passport after the NPA issued a warrant of arrest against him. Gupta is facing charges of fraud and money laundering in connection to the Vrede dairy farm project.
The department also challenged Gupta to indicate if he would be prepared to return to South Africa if ordered to do so by the court. Gupta said he would have to take legal advice.
Fugitive from justice
Judge Mncedisi Khumalo on Friday ruled that “if [Gupta] indeed is not a fugitive from justice, why would he need legal advice whether he ought to come to this country for whatever reason?”
Khumalo added that the refusal to come to South Africa “is more telling for a person who owns property and had owned businesses in this country”.
The judge was also concerned that Atul had not provided a residential address in Dubai.
“All that he seems prepared to state is that he is a South African citizen resident in Dubai. Nothing further is disclosed. I am of the view that this was not oversight on the applicant’s side but was deliberate,” the judgment reads.
Although Gupta does not have a South Africa passport, he is still a citizen of the country.
Motsoaledi welcomes judgment
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi welcomed the judgment, saying the laws of South Africa must be respected.
“Friday’s judgment shows that you cannot want to escape accountability in a country and seek to enjoy the use of documents that are exclusively reserved for law-abiding citizens of that country”, he said.
He also said the cost order against Gupta means that public funds are not wasted and instead used for service delivery.