Prime News, International (London), October 21:- A British court will hear on December 14 an appeal filed by fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi against his extradition from the UK to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case.
The 50-year-old jeweller, who remains behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March 2019, was granted permission to appeal against the Westminster Magistrates’ Court extradition order on mental health and human rights grounds.
High Court judge Martin Chamberlain had ruled on August 9 that arguments presented by Modi’s legal team concerning his “severe depression” and “high risk of suicide” were arguable at a substantial hearing.
“This case is fixed for a one-day hearing on 14th December,” a High Court official said, in reference to the substantial hearing.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian authorities in court, confirmed it will be contesting the appeal on behalf of the Indian government.
The appeal against District Judge Sam Goozee’s February ruling to send the case to the Home Secretary was granted leave to appeal on two grounds – under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) to hear arguments if it would be “unjust or oppressive” to extradite Nirav Modi due to his mental state and Section 91 of the Extradition Act 2003, also related to mental ill-health.
“I will not restrict the basis on which those grounds can be argued, though it seems to me that there should be a particular focus on whether the judge was wrong to reach the conclusion he did, given the evidence as to the severity of the appellant’s [Modi’s] depression, the high risk of suicide and the adequacy of any measures capable of preventing successful suicide attempts in Arthur Road prison,” Justice Chamberlain’s August ruling notes.
The adequacy of measures capable of preventing “successful suicide attempts” at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where Modi is to be detained upon extradition to India, also fall within the arguable ambit.
The permission to appeal was denied on all other grounds, including the admissibility of evidence provided by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and against UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s extradition order. The High Court also noted that the District Judge’s approach to the identification of a prima facie case in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case was “correct”.