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Nirav Modi in UK, CBI moves extradition request

Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice against Modi, one of the masterminds in over USD 2 billion fraud in the Punjab National Bank.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2018 21:52 IST
Rajesh Ahuja and Prasun Sonwalkar
Rajesh Ahuja and Prasun Sonwalkar
New Delhi and London
Nirav Modi,CBI,Nirav Modi extradition
Nirav Modi (Mint File Photo)

Authorities in the UK have confirmed that jewellery designer Nirav Modi is in that country, setting in motion the process to try him in India over his alleged role in the nearly Rs 14,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud, officials familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Modi’s uncle and co-accused in the case Mehul Choksi was tracked down in Antigua and Barbuda last month and India has formally moved for his extradition as well. The two have evaded the law for eight months.

“We were informed by the UK authorities about Nirav’s presence at the weekend. We immediately moved for his detention by forwarding the Interpol Red Notice issued against him through the ministries of home and external affairs. A formal request for his extradition too has been moved,” CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal said.

Modi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal refused to comment.

Experts said quick deportation to India was possible only if Modi was staying in the UK illegally.

“If Nirav Modi’s visa for the UK has expired and he is illegally staying there, London can go for his quick deportation by sending him back to India but if he has reached there on a valid visa, extradition is the only route,” said AK Wali, a lawyer who has handled extradition matters.

In extradition proceedings, an accused person is allowed to contest charges against him or her in court, which would make the process time-consuming.

“Indian agencies will have to produce proper and substantive evidence before the UK court to prove that it is a fit case for extradition,” added Wali.

India’s extradition record with the UK has been marred by failed attempts.

So far, India has been unsuccessful in securing the extradition of Iqbal Mirchi (an alleged aide of gangster Dawood Ibrahim), music director Nadeem Saifi (an accused in the Gulshan Kumar murder case), Ravi Shankaran (an accused in the naval war room case), and Tiger Hanif (an accused in the 1993 bomb blast case).

On the other hand, India has so far extradited three individuals to the UK under the 1993 extradition treaty between the two countries: Maninder Pal Singh Kohli (Indian citizen), on July 29, 2007, for the murder of Hannah Foster; Somaia Ketan Surendra (Kenyan citizen), on July 8, 2009, in a cheating case; and Kulwinder Singh Uppal (Indian citizen), on November 14, 2013, in a kidnapping and false imprisonment case.

The only extradition from the UK to India was of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel (Indian citizen), on October 18, 2016, in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots. But Patel did not challenge his extradition.

At present, India has mounted a case in the UK for the extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya who, like Modi and Choksi, is facing charges of committing bank fraud and money-laundering.

Modi and Choski left India in the first week of January this year and despite repeated summons from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, they have refused to come back.

As per the UK’s extradition procedure applicable to India, the extradition request has been sent to the UK central authority based in the international criminality unit of the home office. It will then put up the request to home secretary Sajid Javid for certification.

After the request is certified, a judge (usually in the Westminster magistrate court) will decide whether to issue an arrest warrant. If the warrant is issued, Modi will be arrested and produced before the court, which will then schedule preliminary and extradition hearings.

Since in Modi’s case, the request has not yet reached the stage of certification and arrest, the Crown Prosecution Service, which acts on behalf of the requesting state in UK courts, said on Monday: “We neither confirm nor deny extradition cases unless a person has been arrested”.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 13:27 IST