Holding that it would neither be unjust nor oppressive to extradite Nirav Modi to India, Justices Jeremey Stuart Smith and Robert Jay ruled that the risk of suicide if Modi is extradited may be high but the arrangements at the (Indian) prison will enable the authorities to cope properly with Nirav’s condition.
Nirav, who is the prime accused in the $2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scandal, had appealed against an order of the UK Court which in February 2021 had cleared the decks for Nirav’s extradition.
Nirav, who was arrested in Britain in March 2019 and has been in custody since then, had preferred an appeal against the UK Court order. He had appealed against his extradition on health grounds. On October 12, the Royal Courts of Justice had reserved its judgement on Nirav’s plea.
His defence counsels had contended that Nirav was in a state of depression and at suicide risk and that it could aggravate should he be extradited to India. His defence had further alleged that the conditions prevailing in India were hostile to Nirav and that he had been demonised by the politicians.
Finding little force in the contentions raised by his defence, the London High Court ruled “Pulling these various strands together and weighing them in the balance so as to reach an overall evaluative judgment on the question raised by Section 91, we are far from satisfied that Mr Modi’s mental condition and the risk of suicide are such that it would be either unjust or oppressive to extradite him.”
The High Court further held “It may be that the main benefit of the appeal has been to obtain the extensive further [Indian government] assurances that we have identified in the course of this judgment, which render the position clear to Mr Modi’s advantage and the District Judge’s decision supportable”.
It might be mentioned here that Nirav can appeal against the High Court order within 14 days. However, he can appeal in the Supreme Court only if the London High Court agrees that his case involves a point of law of general public importance. In case Nirav loses his appeal in the Supreme Court, he has an option to approach the European Court of Human Rights. Nirav has denied the accusations levelled against him.
The first request for extradition of Nirav Modi was tabled by the Indian government on July 27, 2018. He continues to remain behind the bars at Wandsworth Prison in London since his arrest in March 2019.
Allowing the Indian government’s extradition plea in February 2021, a UK Westminster Court in a detailed order had indicted Nirav of all charges levelled by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which are probing the bank scandal.