Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday accused the Congress of doing its best to save fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi in the Punjab National Bank scam using a former High Court judge, PTI reported. Nirav Modi is accused of duping Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,000 crore. His uncle Mehul Choksi is also a prime accused in the case. Modi fled to the United Kingdom in 2018.

Prasad said Abhay Thipsay, a former judge of the Bombay High Court and Allahabad High Court, deposed as a defence witness in the case to oppose extradition proceedings against Modi. Prasad said Thipsay claimed that the charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy against Modi will not hold up in an Indian court. The law minister called this a “sinister attempt” by the Congress to save Modi.

Prasad added that Thipsay joined the Congress in 2018 and met senior leaders like then-party chief Rahul Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. The law minister claimed that “judge sahab” was not acting in his own capacity but working at the behest of the Congress.

“There is overpowering suspicious circumstances existing from which we can infer that the Congress is trying its best to save and bail out Nirav Modi,” Prasad alleged. The law minister said Indian investigation agencies will reply effectively to Thipsay’s claim.

Prasad said that though Nirav Modi fled India during the rule of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government, he committed most of his crimes during Congress rule. Prasad added that Thipsay was transferred to the Allahabad High Court from the Bombay High Court 10 months before his retirement on administrative grounds, which “tells its own story”.

In December last year, a court in Mumbai declared Nirav Modi a fugitive economic offender. The businessman was arrested in London last year. Four bail applications have been posted by his legal team since his arrest but they have been rejected every time as he is deemed a flight risk.