Nirav Modi can be extradited to India, rules UK Court
New Delhi, Feb 25: A UK court on Thursday ruled that fugitive Nirav Modi, wanted for fraud and money laundering in the Rs 14,000-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, conspired to destroy evidence and intimidate witnesses.
'Nirav Modi can be extradited to India', said a UK judge, dismissing arguments like his mental health worsening during the pandemic and Indian prison conditions.
District Judge Samuel Goozee at the Westminster Magistrates' Court said that "I am satisfied that there is evidence that Modi could be convicted".
The magistrate said that the detention condition in India was satisfactory and that Barrack 12 considered acceptable as place for detention. "Conditions in Barack 12 look far better than his current cell in London," the court said.
The court also found medical arrangements in India for Modi acceptable.
UK judge rules that Nirav Modi will be given adequate medical treatment and mental health care at Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai/
Modi was arrested on an extradition warrant on March 19, 2019, and has appeared via videolink from Wandsworth Prison for a series of court hearings in the extradition case. His multiple attempts at seeking bail have been repeatedly turned down, both at the Magistrates' and High Court level, as he was deemed a flight risk.
He is the subject of two sets of criminal proceedings, with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case relating to a large-scale fraud upon PNB through the fraudulent obtaining of letters of undertaking (LoUs) or loan agreements, and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
He also faces two additional charges of "causing the disappearance of evidence" and intimidating witnesses or "criminal intimidation to cause death", which were added on to the CBI case.
Modi's legal battle marks one of a number of high-profile extradition cases involving accused Indian economic offenders in the UK. While former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya remains on bail as a "confidential" matter related to his extradition to India is resolved, accused arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari's extradition case is scheduled for its next hearing in April.
In February 2020, wanted cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla was extradited to face charges in India and became the first extradition of its kind under the India-UK Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992.
A previous extradition of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, wanted in connection with the Godhra riots in Gujarat, from the UK to India in October 2016 had been uncontested and therefore did not have to go through various levels of appeals in the UK courts.