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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Nirav Modi extradition case in London court likely to begin on Friday

Modi, 48, was denied bail on March 20 after being arrested the previous day on an arrest warrant issued by the court after home secretary Sajid Javid certified India’s request to extradite him to face charges of bank fraud amounting to over Rs 14,000 crore.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2019 09:12 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Diamantaire Nirav Modi was arrested in London on March 20
Diamantaire Nirav Modi was arrested in London on March 20(Mint / File Photo )
         

Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, lodged in the Wandsworth prison, is likely to appear in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday via videolink to seek bail.

It will mark the beginning of case management hearings as part of extradition proceedings.

A team from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is expected to be present in the court on Friday.

Modi, 48, was denied bail on March 20 after being arrested the previous day on an arrest warrant issued by the court after home secretary Sajid Javid certified India’s request to extradite him to face charges of bank fraud amounting to over Rs 14,000 crore.

Denying Modi bail is significant given the history of Indians sought to be extradited since the 1992 India-UK treaty.

Almost all of them were granted bail, including former Dawood Ibrahim aide Iqbal Mirchi, as well as others such as Vijay Mallya, Sanjeev Chawla and Ravi Shankaran.

Modi offered to pay 500,000 pounds security deposit for bail, but was denied due to what judge Marie Mallon called the “high value of amount involved in the allegations” and the likelihood of his escaping.

Extradition case of both Modi and Mallya relate to loans of around Rs 9,000 crore secured from a consortium of banks that includes IDBI and SBI in the Mallya case , and a fraud of over Rs 14,000 crore perpetrated on the Mumbai branch of the Punjab National Bank in Modi’s case.

However, there are key differences in the nature of charges of financial impropriety. Mallya’s main contention was that there is no prima facie case against him, since the inability of his Kingfisher Airlines to return loans was due to a genuine business failure. After over a year of hearings, chief judge Emma Arbuthnot upheld India’s case.

In contrast, Modi’s case may be decided over a shorter time-frame, given seemingly clearer charges of fraud against him, his co-accused and uncle Mehul Choksi, his family and some PNB officials, as outlined in CBI’s charge sheet filed in Indian courts. As in the Mallya case, Modi’s defence team is likely to raise issues in court to prevent his extradition such as risk to his human rights in Indian jails, political persecution and alleged infirmities in the Indian judicial system that prevent delivery of justice. India successfully countered such claims in the court with documentary and visual evidence in the Mallya case.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 09:11 IST