UK certifies India’s request for Nirav Modi’s extradition
The long-drawn extradition process of fugitive Nirav Modi — who has been in London for nearly a year after leaving India in the wake of allegations of major financial rows — is set to begin in British courts after home secretary Sajid Javid certified India’s request on Thursday.
The Daily Telegraph on Saturday released a video showing a different-looking Modi on the streets of London, where he has had a diamond store since 2014, when his company — Nirav Modi Limited — was registered with the registrar of companies.
To persistent queries from the daily’s reporters, Modi responded with “no comments”, most likely under legal advice. Modi has reportedly started a new diamond business and has been living in the high-end central London apartment block called “Centre Point”.
Javid’s certification - the first stage of the extradition process - has been sent to the Westminster Magistrates Court, officials involved with the process said on Saturday. If the court is satisfied that enough information has been supplied, an arrest warrant will be issued.
The court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct described in the request is an extradition offence, which includes the requirement for dual criminality. Nirav Modi will then be arrested by Scotland Yard and produced in court and bailed, triggering the extradition hearings.
In the case of businessman Vijay Mallya, whose extradition case is now in the appeals court, India sent the request in end-2016 (he arrived in London on March 2, 2016); it was certified by the home secretary on February 21, 2017. Mallya was arrested and bailed nearly two months later on April 18, 2017, when his extradition hearings began.
The daily reported: “Modi appears to have adopted a surprisingly nonchalant attitude to his fugitive status, walking his small dog each day between his apartment and the diamond company’s office in a townhouse in Soho, just a few hundred yards from his Centre Point home”.
Describing Modi as a “billionaire diamond tycoon who is India’s most wanted”, the report quoted unnamed government sources to say that Modi has been given a national insurance number, which is required to work legally in the UK. He has also been operating bank accounts online, it added.
Modi, who is wanted in India in connection with a financial scam involving the Punjab National Bank worth thousands of crores, along with his uncle, Mehul Choksi, continues to figure in Interpol’s wanted list on its website.
The charges against him, as provided to the international police organisation by India, includes criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker merchant or agent, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, and money laundering.
British officials said that as a matter of long-standing policy and practice, the UK will neither confirm nor deny that an extradition request has been made or received until an arrest has been made in relation to the request.
Besides facing extradition proceedings, Modi is reported to have applied for asylum. However, the Home Office said: “We would not routinely confirm nor deny whether an individual asylum claim has been lodged”.
Modi’s asylum application, if lodged, will be in the context of the Home office no longer considering India as a place from where people flee. It has been included in the list of ‘safe’ countries in 2005 for asylum purposes.
This means that applications that are rejected and certified as “clearly unfounded” cannot be appealed against while the applicant is in the UK.
The four major grounds for the UK considering asylum applications from Indian citizens are: sexual orientation and gender identity, prison conditions, women fearing gender-based harm/violence, and religious minority groups.
The Home Office reportedly has a large backlog of asylum applications, with decisions taking years. While an individual’s application is under consideration, he or she can usually remain in the country.