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Nirav Modi turns to UK high court after denied bail thrice

Modi, who was present in court, was remanded to custody until June 27, while chief judge Emma Arbuthnot fixed July 29 for the next case management hearing. The ‘opening note’ in the extradition case is to be submitted within six weeks, the court directed.

india Updated: May 31, 2019 07:33 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Nirav Modi,Westminster Magistrates Court,Emma Arbuthnot
Claire Montgomery, lawyer for Modi, pointed out that so far it was not mentioned in the documents in which prison he would be lodged, if extradited. (MINT PHOTO)

Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi has approached the high court of England and Wales after being denied bail three times by the Westminster Magistrates Court, which is hearing India’s request for his extradition to face major charges of financial fraud.

Modi, who was arrested by Scotland Yard on March 19, was last denied bail by chief judge Emma Arbuthnot on May 8 on grounds of ‘flight risk’, the scale of the alleged fraud, access to funds, potentially influencing witnesses and destroying evidence, and weak links to the UK.

His fresh bail application will be heard in the high court on June 11, court officials said. No new grounds have been cited in the application. Modi had previously offered to furnish a security deposit of 2 million pounds and follow strict conditions, including a 24-hour curfew.

Modi, who appeared in person in a case management hearing in the magistrates court on Thursday, was returned to the Wandsworth prison in west London, where he has been remanded until June 27. If the high court grants bail on June 11, he will be released.

During the case management hearing, Arbuthnot sought information from India within 14 days where Modi would be lodged, if extradited, and expressed delight over the better quality of paperwork submitted by New Delhi.

She also fixed July 29 as the date of the next case management hearing, by when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) acting on behalf of India is expected to submit an ‘opening note’ detailing key charges against Modi.

As in the Vijay Mallya extradition case, Modi’s case also involves thousands of documents, often carted to the court in boxes. In previous hearings, the court heard remarks on the poor quality of paperwork submitted.

However, Arbuthnot said on Thursday: “The paperwork is much clear than it was, there is much better pagination. There is an index, and I would like referenced pagination. There should also be an index to the volumes”.

Claire Montgomery, lawyer for Modi, pointed out that so far it is not mentioned in the documents in which prison he would be lodged, if extradited. She kept open the option of a prison visit if it is a different cell and jail than the one mentioned in the Mallya case: barrack number 12 of the Arthur Road jail, Mumbai. The court is already aware of its conditions.

Montgomery said the defence team remained ‘in the dark’ about the allegations against him as well as the identity of the prison. Modi is facing charges of major financial offences running into thousands of crores linked to a Mumbai branch of the Punjab National Bank.

Ed Martin, CPS lawyer, informed the judge that a more detailed pagination and index would be included in the ‘opening note’ to be submitted to the court in six weeks.

First Published: May 30, 2019 18:34 IST