Vijay Mallya case re-run? Nirav Modi extradition hearing begins today
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.Updated: Mar 28, 2019 23:40 IST
Nirav Modi, one of India’s most wanted lodged in a UK prison, is likely to appear in the Westminster magistrates court on Friday via video link to seek bail, marking the beginning of ‘case management hearings’ as part of extradition proceedings.
Modi, 48, was denied bail on March 20 after being arrested the previous day on a warrant issued by the court after British 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 as the 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.
A team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is expected to be present in the court on Friday.
The extradition case of both Modi and Mallya relate to loans worth thousands of crores of rupees secured from Indian banks; from a consortium of banks that includes IDBI and SBI in the Mallya case, and 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, according to him, was due to a genuine business failure.
The case was described by the judge as ‘a jigsaw puzzle’, while Mark Summers, lawyer representing India, accused Mallya of ‘three chapters of dishonesty’: Misrepresentations made to banks to secure loans, what was done with the loans secured, and what he and his companies did when banks recalled the loans.
After over a year of hearings involving thousands of pages of documents and witnesses, chief judge Emma Arbuthnot upheld India’s case that there is a prima facie case for him to answer in India, dismissing other grounds such as risk to human rights in jail and abuse of process.
In contrast, Modi’s case may be decided over a shorter time-frame, given the different, seemingly clearer charges of impropriety and fraud against him, his family and others, including some PNB officials, as outlined in CBI’s chargesheet 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, including a sovereign assurance from the Union home ministry that there would be no risk to his human rights.
India’s charges against Modi, as provided to Interpol, are: ‘Punishment of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker merchant or agent, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, prevention of corruption act, money laundering’.
The Westminster Magistrates Court, which deals with several extradition cases every day, is also hearing the case of suspected Dawood Ibrahim aide Jabir Motiwala, who is facing extradition to the United States to answer charges related to money-laundering, among others. He has so far appeared in the court through the video link.
First Published: Mar 28, 2019 16:50 IST