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Thursday, Dec 12, 2019

After Chawla and Mallya, Nirav Modi extradition next big case in UK

Nirva Modi’s case is set to begin in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court after British home secretary, Sajid Javid, last week certified India’s extradition request.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2019 00:59 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
In this file photo, Nirav Modi Indian jewellery designer at his office in Lower Parel, in Mumbai .
In this file photo, Nirav Modi Indian jewellery designer at his office in Lower Parel, in Mumbai . (Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint file photo)
         

Fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi’s case is the latest in high-profile extradition cases being pursued in British courts, where until recently the evidence Indian investigators produced did not hold up to scrutiny. But the intense media focus has raised the bar, officials said.

Nirav Modi’s case is set to begin in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court after British home secretary, Sajid Javid, last week certified India’s extradition request.

Two other high-profile cases of businessman Vijay Mallya and alleged cricket bookie, Sanjeev Chawla, have moved to the higher court. The Magistrates’ Court in December ordered Mallya’s extradition to face fraud charges in India. The extradition of Chawla, who is an accused in the match-fixing scandal involving late former South African captain Hansie Cronje in 2000, was cleared a month later.

A spokesman for the judiciary said the notice of appeal was filed on February 14 in the Mallya case. “The appellant [Mallya] now has to send grounds for appeal. When these are received the respondent [home office] has to send a notice back,” the spokesman said. “Up to 20 working days are allowed for this to happen. Then it will be sent to a single judge who will look at it on the papers to see if it will go ahead to an appeal hearing.”

Javid ordered Chawla’s extradition on February 27. Chawla has 14 working days – until March 19 – to appeal against the order. Mallya and Chawla used prison conditions and risk to their human rights as one of the grounds to block extradition.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate officials are due in London for discussions on the Nirav Modi case, which will begin after the Westminster Magistrates’ Court is satisfied with material provided with Javid’s certification.

In the previous cases, bundles of poorly-written First information Reports and documents, many hand-written, followed Indian extradition requests to Britain, until focus on Mallya’s case prompted renewed attention to improving the quality of evidence and paperwork, officials said.The poor paperwork is blamed for failures in securing extraditions since India and the UK signed an extradition treaty in 1993.

Officials associated with the Mallya case said it has been a “learning exercise” for ministries, the CBI and others. For the first time, there was “joined-up thinking” and much attention to detail in various quarters in New Delhi and London, an official said. A similar focus is likely in the Modi case.

A joint secretary in a key ministry was removed during the Mallya hearings following a delay in producing a vital document for submission to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court. From a time when Indian bureaucracy was known for delays, the Mallya case evidently brought about a change of approach.