Shades of Mallya case in Nirav Modi trial in UK court
Two witnesses deposed on Wednesday in defence of dimantaire Nirav Modi on the third day of his extradition trial in the Westminster Magistrates Court, as objections, arguments and counter-arguments made resonated with those in the case of businessman Vijay Mallya.
Mod’s lawyer, Claire Montgomery, was also lawyer for Mallya, whose case has progressed from the magistrates court to the high court, and is now seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court to block extradition to India.
Retired Justice Abhay Thipsay (from India) and Thierry Fritsch (from France) deposed by video-link, and substantiated the arguments put forth by Montgomery in Modi’s defence. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) representing India submitted more documents to the court.
Thipsay sought to confirm Montgomery’s objections to the ways in which witness statements are made in India under Section 161 of India’s Code of Criminal Procedure, stating that they are made in an atmosphere of “distrust of police machinery”.
Fritsch, who has a career in luxury goods and was on the advisory of board of Modi’s jewellery company, lauded his creativity, passion and entrepreneurship that, according to him, made Modi’s company one of the most known at the international level.
“All this (extradition case) came as a surprise. No reason to doubt (Modi’s character)”, he told judge Samuel Mark Goozee, who authorised the release of some case papers to the news media.
Documents submitted in the Modi case refer to several points of law, objections and rulings made in the Mallya case, as Modi’s defence raised similar objections to extradition: lack of a prima facie case, the alleged impossibility of a fair trial in India, and risk to human rights in the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai.
The CPS refers to the Mallya case in its skeleton argument in the Modi case to refute or respond to arguments by Modi’s defence, pointing out that many of the objections put forth had been dismissed in judgments in the Mallya case.
The CPS submitted that there is no evidence that “justifies a departure from the approach taken in Mallya” on the issue of lack of prima facie case, admissibility of evidence submitted by India, or on the sovereign assurance by the ministry of home affairs on there being no risk to human rights in the Mumbai jail.
The magistrates court and the appeal court of the high court of England and Wales had dismissed similar objections raised by Mallya’s defence team, and recommended his extradition to the home secretary.