UK high court hears Nirav Modi plea against extradition to India

A British court Tuesday opened the appeal hearing in the extradition case of Nirav Modi—wanted in India on the charges of fraud and money laundering in the PNB loan scam case.

Nirav Modi had lodged an appeal last year against his extradition order on mental health grounds.

The court presided over an initial hearing at the High Court in December last year to determine the February 2021 ruling in favour of extradition by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Nirav Modi had in his appeal said that the extradition was incorrect as it overlooked the diamond merchant’s “high risk of suicide.”

Nirav Modi’s “high risk of suicide” and the “adequacy of any measures capable of preventing successful suicide attempts in Arthur Road prison” in Mumbai were the focal points of Modi’s legal team for appeal.

“He is at high risk of suicide already and his condition is likely to deteriorate further in Mumbai,” Nirav Modi’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald had argued during the December appeal hearing.

The High Court hearings follow a ruling in August last year by High Court Justice Martin Chamberlain that arguments concerning the jeweller’s ‘severe depression’ and ‘high risk of suicide’ were arguable at a full appeal hearing.

The legal team of Nirav Modi have sought to establish that it would be oppressive to extradite him due to his mental condition that could lead to suicidal impulses, given the family history of suicide of his mother. The legal team also alleged that he is at risk of “flagrant denial of justice” in India. The lawyers have even claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic is “overwhelming” the Indian prison system.

If Nirav Modi wins this appeal hearing, he cannot be extradited to India unless the Indian government is successful in getting permission to appeal at the Supreme Court. And if Modi loses this appeal hearing, he can approach the Supreme Court on a point of law of public importance within 14 days of a High Court verdict.

The Indian government has given assurances about the conditions in which Modi will be detained if surrendered to India and the facilities that will be available to care for his “physical and mental health”.

Modi is the subject of two sets of criminal proceedings, with the CBI case relating to a large-scale fraud upon PNB through the fraudulent obtaining of letters of undertaking (LoUs) or loan agreements, and the ED case relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.

Meanwhile, Nirav Modi will remain behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March 2019.

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