London, November 3: Citing the December 2018 judgement on the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya, the Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday rejected objections by diamantaire Nirav Modi’s defence team on admitting evidence submitted by the Indian government in the latter’s extradition case.
District judge Samuel Goozee said he was bound by the Mallya judgement delivered by Emma Arbuthnot, who also dealt with the issue of admissibility of India’s evidence and decided to accept them. He said he would adopt the “approach taken in Mallya”, the Hindustan Times reported.
Modi’s lawyer Claire Montgomery, who also appeared for Mallya, raised objections on the admissibility of witness statements made under section 161 of the Indian Penal Code, among others. She also referred to remarks on the admissibility issue by legal expert Martin Lau, who was a witness presented by Modi’s team.
Statements of several witnesses to Modi’s alleged fraud are part of India’s documentation in the case, including individuals who alleged that they were threatened at the behest of Modi.
Modi, who is lodged in the Wandsworth jail, is the subject of two extradition requests; one processed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the other by the Enforcement Directorate.
Charges against Modi involve a Mumbai branch of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) that extended his companies loans worth over Rs 11,300 crore. The CBI case relates to large-scale fraud upon PNB, through the fraudulent obtaining of Letters of Understanding (LOUs/loan agreements); the ED case relates to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
The second extradition request was made on the basis of two additional offences as part of the CBI case, relating to allegations that Modi interfered with the CBI investigation by “causing disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses (”criminal intimidation to cause death”).
Further hearings are scheduled in early December and on January 7, 8 for final submissions.
The magistrates court cleared Mallya’s extradition in December 2018. His appeals in the high court were also turned down, but the extradition currently awaits resolution of a legal process, widely believed to be an application for asylum.