Nirav Modi can be extradited, rules UK court, says has a 'case to answer to India'
The judge will now send his ruling to UK's secretary of state Priti Patel, who is authorised to order extradition under the India-UK Extradition Treaty
On Thursday, fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi lost his legal battle against extradition after a UK judge ruled that he must face the Indian courts on charges of fraud and money laundering in the estimated $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case.
The 49-year-old appeared via video link from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London as District Judge Samuel Goozeehanded handed down his verdict at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court.
I am satisfied on the evidence that a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering is established, said Judge Goozee, as he read out parts of his judgment in court and concluded that he will send his ruling to the UK's secretary of state, Priti Patel.
Patel is authorised to order extradition under the India-UK Extradition Treaty. She has two months within which to make that decision.
The home secretary rarely goes against the court's conclusions, as she has to consider only some very narrow bars to clear extradition, including the possible imposition of a death penalty, which are unlikely to apply in Nirav's case.
After her decision, Nirav has 14 days to approach the high court and seek leave to appeal, which, if granted, will be heard at the Administrative Division of the High Court in London.
Nirav was arrested on an extradition warrant on 19 March 2019, and has appeared via video link from Wandsworth Prison for a series of court hearings.
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.
During a series of hearings in the course of the extradition case last year and early this year, Westminster Magistrates' Court has heard detailed arguments from both sides about why Nirav's "deteriorating" mental health condition does or does not meet the Section 91 threshold of the Extradition Act 2003 which was most recently been used in the UK to block the extradition of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange on the grounds of it being "unjust and oppressive" as he is a high suicide risk.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had challenged the defence stance and had called for an independent evaluation of medical records by a consultant psychiatrist for appropriate assurances to be acquired by the authorities in terms of his care in India.
Prison conditions at Barrack 12 in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where Nirav is to be held, have also been in focus as the Indian government submitted an updated video recording of the cell to highlight that it meets all human rights requirements of natural light and ventilation.
Nirav'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.
With inputs from PTI
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