Nirav Modi cites risk of suicide, Covid-19 infection in appeal against extradition to India
Lawyers of the PNB fraud accused have moved a renewal plea for filing a second appeal against his extradition order.
Fugitive businessman Nirav Modi on Wednesday told a London court that he faced risk of dying by suicide due to mental illness if transferred to the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai following his extradition to India. He also cited risks of being infected by Covid-19 in the prison, PTI reported.
Modi, accused of duping the Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,000 crore, had lost his appeal against extradition to India in a United Kingdom High Court last month.
In February, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the UK had ordered that the fugitive diamond merchant can be extradited to India to face trial. On April 15, UK’s Home Minister Priti Patel approved Modi’s extradition to India.
His lawyers have now moved a renewal plea to once again appeal against the extradition order.
Barrister Edward Fitzgerald, appearing for Modi, argued against the extradition order in February. He said that the judge was wrong to conclude that Modi’s condition of severe depression was not unusual given his incarceration but he did not exhibit an immediate impulse to kill himself.
Modi’s lawyers cited a report by forensic psychiatrist Andrew Forrester who had said in August that the businessman should be considered at “substantial (meaning high), albeit not immediate, risk of suicide”.
The lawyers also cast doubts on the medical facilities at the Arthur Road Jail and submitted that extraditing Modi would would land him in a “Covid-rich prison”, Bloomberg reported.
“We just don’t know what kind of regime he will have in the Indian prison,” Fitzgerald argued.
The Crown Prosecution Service, on behalf of the Indian authorities, and the home secretary’s counsel will make their counter-arguments on the renewal plea. The judgement is likely to be given at a later date on whether the case can proceed for a full appeal hearing in the High Court in London, PTI reported.
Modi is facing two sets of criminal proceedings. The Central Bureau of Investigation case relates to the large-scale fraud upon PNB through the fraudulent obtaining of “Letters of Understanding”, while the Enforcement Directorate is investigating the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
He also faces two additional charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses, or criminal intimidation to cause death added to the CBI case.
Throughout the proceedings of the case, which went on for two years, Modi has denied the charges and opposed the efforts to extradite him from Britain to India. But his multiple attempts at seeking bail was repeatedly turned down as he was deemed a flight risk.