What legal recourse can Nirav Modi take after UK court ruling

The ruling of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court will now be sent to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for a sign-off, on whose approval he can move an appeal against the court’s order in the country’s high court.

New Delhi: In a major setback to fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, a UK court on Thursday ordered his extradition in connection with the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank loan fraud case, after almost a two-year long legal battle.

The ruling of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court will now be sent to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for a sign-off, on whose approval he can move an appeal against the court’s order in the country’s high court.

The District Judge of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Samuel Goozee, on Thursday accepted the prima facie evidence against Modi for money laundering, saying: “Many of these are a matter for trial in India. I am satisfied again that there is evidence that he could be convicted.”

“The ruling will now be sent to the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who will take a final call on the extradition. The Secretary of State has to take a decision within two months or can seek an extension from the high court,” said a prominent Supreme Court lawyer, on condition of anonymity.

If the extradition is approved, Nirav Modi will have the option to challenge it in the high court. Unless there is an appeal, he must be extradited within 28 days of the Secretary of State’s decision to order extradition.

As per the legal experts, all criminal cases start in the magistrates’ court, but the more serious criminal matters are committed to the Crown Court. Appeals from the Crown Court go to the high court, and potentially to the Court of Appeal or even the Supreme Court.

According to the UK Supreme Court’s official website, not all orders made by lower courts can be appealed to the apex court. “In most cases, to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court, you must first apply to the court which handed down the judgment to ask for permission to appeal,” it said.

The founder of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India in a Rs 9,000 crore loan defraud cae, had also approached the UK High Court which had dismissed his appeal against extradition on April 20 last year.

The high court had also rejected his plea to move the Supreme Court against the dismissal of his appeal challenging the lower court’s approval of his extradition to India.

Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi was arrested on an extradition warrant on March 19, 2019 on charges of money laundering, conspiring to destroy evidence and intimidating witnesses.

The charges against Modi centers around his firms Diamonds R Us, Stellar Diamonds and Solar Exports for making fraudulent use of a credit facility offered by the PNB, known as ‘letters of undertaking’ (LoUs).

He is facing probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a large-scale fraud upon PNB through fraudulently obtaining LoUs or loan agreements. He is also being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.

Meanwhile, he also faces two additional charges of “causing disappearance of evidence” and “intimidating witnesses” or “criminal intimidation to cause death”, which were added to the CBI case.

The ED has attached several assets of Nirav Modi running into crores of rupees in connection with the case.

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