Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, on Tuesday, 11 June, pleaded for bail in London’s Royal Courts of Justice, ahead of the trial in the $2 billion PNB fraud case, news agency ANI reported.
The court is hearing Nirav’s appeal against a lower court’s order to deny him bail as he fights his extradition from Britain to India.
“The reality is that he is not the cold-blooded hardened criminal as claimed by the government of India, but a jewellery designer from a long line of diamond dealers, and regarded as being honest careful and reliable,” said Clare Montgomery, Nirav’s barrister, as she opened the arguments in the hearing.
Reading out an email exchange between Nirav Modi and his brother, Montgomery, reportedly said: “The emails clearly show that there is no evidence of any sort of witness interference. We have seen witnesses from Abu Dhabi who have replied to emails from the ED.”
She said Nirav moved to London “to raise capital and to explore where in the world he needed to be immigration-wise”.
“If he (Nirav) is given bail, he is willing to be tagged through an electronic device and have a phone that can be tracked,” Montgomery reportedly said.
Nirav Modi has already been denied bail at three previous attempts at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, as the judge ruled there was “substantial risk” that he would fail to surrender and deemed the bail security offered as insufficient.
The hearing for Modi’s bail application is underway.
High Security Cell Kept Ready in Mumbai Prison
Meanwhile, Authorities at the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai have kept ‘barrack No. 12’ ready if Nirav Modi is extradited from the UK, a Home department official told PTI on Tuesday.
“If lodged in the barrack, Modi is likely to get three-square metre personal space, as per European norms, per person lodged in correction centres, and he will be provided a cotton mat, pillow, bed-sheet and blanket,” he said, adding that Nirav will be permitted out of his cell for exercise and recreation for a reasonable amount of time, which will not more than an hour a day.
The prisons department last week shared information with the state Home department about the status of the Arthur Road prison and facilities that can be provided there, in case Modi is to be lodged in the barrack.
The Maharashtra government recently submitted a letter of assurance to the Centre about the facilities which it can provide in the prison, the official reportedly said.
Nirav Modi, if extradited, will be kept in one of two rooms in barrack no. 12 of the Arthur Road prison, he said, citing the letter.
Background of The Case
Nirav Modi was arrested by Scotland Yard officers in London on 19 March and faces extradition to India as the “principal beneficiary” of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and then laundering the money.
UK’s Westminster Magistrate’s Court last month denied bail to Modi, who has been behind bars at one of England’s most overcrowded prisons, Her Majesty’s Prison Wandsworth.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)