CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
U.K. COURT DELIVERS VERDICT UPHOLDING GOVT OF INDIA’S CONTENTION FOR EXTRADITION OF MR. NIRAV MODI
The Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London(UK) has today accepted the contention of Govt of India to extradite Mr.Nirav Modi. The U.K.Court delivered the verdict wherein it held that the evidence against Mr.Nirav Modi is prima facie sufficient to order his extradition to India to face the charges. The Court also upheld the assurances of Government of India and rejected the submissions of defence regarding human rights violations, fair trial and prison conditions. Rejecting the arguments of defence, the U.K.Court decided to send his case to the Secretary of the State, U.K for final decision.
The today’s judgement of Westminster Magistrates’ Court is a significant achievement in the context of CBI’s efforts to curb corruption and is a reminder that fugitives, who have eluded the process of law after commission of large value frauds, cannot consider themselves above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions. The judgement also vindicates the painstaking investigation by CBI, especially since Mr.Nirav Modi had raised various issues with regard to the admissibility of evidence, the fairness of investigation, trial, prison conditions, availability of health facilities in India and extraneous consideration, with a view to divert attention from his own acts.
It may be stated that CBI had registered the case on 31.01.2018 against the partner of three private firms and others including then officials of Punjab National Bank on a complaint from Punjab National Bank on the allegations that the accused had hatched a criminal conspiracy amongst themselves to defraud the Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs. 6,498 crore (approx) by fraudulently issuing Letters of Undertaking. During investigation, CBI conducted searches at 42 premises and arrested fifteen persons. A large number of witnesses were examined and voluminous documents were collected. Investigation revealed that the accused officials of the Punjab National Bank, in conspiracy with said owners of the firms and others, had fraudulently issued a large number of LoUs to overseas banks for obtaining Buyer’s credit in favour of said three firms without any sanctioned limit or cash margin and without making entries in the CBS system of the bank. Investigation further revealed that the fraud was allegedly perpetrated despite the circulars issued by RBI.
The first charge sheet was filed on 14.05.2018 against 25 accused including Nirav Modi. The second charge sheet was filed on 20.12.2019 against 30 accused persons including 25 accused chargesheeted earlier in respect of 150 outstanding fraudulent LOUs which had resulted in wrongful loss of Rs.6805 crore (approx.) to PNB including the interest and other charges paid by the bank to overseas banks which had extended the buyer’s credit to the said 3 accused firms of Mr.Nirav Modi on the strength of the fraudulent LOUs of PNB. It was also alleged that Mr. Nirav Modi in conspiracy with other accused had siphoned off the funds obtained as buyer’s credit through dummy companies established by him in Dubai and Hong Kong which were shown as exporter of Pearls to 3 Nirav Modi’s firms and importer of Pearl studded jewellery from the said firms of Mr. Nirav Modi. The accused Mr. Nirav Modi had escaped from India on 01.01.2018 before registration of case in CBI. Non bailable arrest warrant was issued by the trial court against Mr. Nirav Modi on 23.05.2018 and red notice was also issued against him on 29.06.2018 by Interpol. The first extradition request was sent by CBI to United Kingdom for extradition of Mr.Nirav Modi in August, 2018 for defrauding Punjab National Bank.
Mr. Nirav Modi was arrested by UK Police in London on 19.03.2019. His repeated applications for bail, were rejected by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court and High Court, London. After second chargesheet was filed on 20.12.2019, additional evidences were submitted to the Court in London for the total fraud amount of Rs. 6805 crore (approx.). In addition, second extradition request for the offences of intimidating the witnesses and destruction of evidence was also submitted to the UK government. The extradition proceedings against Mr.Nirav Modi were initiated before the Westminster Magistrate Court in London. In extradition requests, CBI submitted voluminous oral and documentary evidence to substantiate the charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal misconduct by public servants, destruction of evidence and criminal intimidation of evidence. The hearing of first extradition request was held in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London during May, 2020 and the hearing of second extradition request was held during September, 2020. The video of Arthur Road Prison, Mumbai, submitted by Govt. of India was also played in the court. The hearing on admissibility of the evidence was held on 03.11.2020 and the final submissions by the both sides were made before the court in January, 2021.
CBI gracefully acknowledges the painstaking and continuous efforts made by the counsels of Crown Prosecution service in forcefully presenting Government of India’s Case and also the efforts of various Govt. agencies, especially officers of High Commission of India, London, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs in coordinating the extradition trial, timely submission of evidences and assurances and prompt follow up of the case at all stages.