A UK court on Thursday ordered the extradition of diamond merchant Nirav Modi to India to stand trial in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case. After a nearly two-year-long legal battle, the court ruled that a prima facie case has been established against Modi as it dismissed the diamantaire's "mental health concerns" stating "they are not unusual in a man in his circumstances".
The 49-year-old appeared via videolink from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London and showed no emotion as District Judge Samuel Goozee handed down his judgment at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
In the ruling, the judge said that Nirav Modi had conspired to destroy evidence and intimidate witnesses. "Barrack 12 at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai is fit for Nirav Modi," the judge further said, adding that the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi has a case to answer for in India.
"Nirav Modi will be given adequate medical treatment and mental health care at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai. There is no risk of suicide for Nirav Modi if he is sent to India as he will have access to adequate medical care at Arthur Road jail," the judge noted.
The court said that Nirav Modi will not be denied justice if he is extradited to India. It also dismissed Nirav Modi's defence claims that Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tried to influence the case against the billionaire.
WHAT IS THE CASE
Nirav 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.