On Thursday, District Judge Samuel Goozee of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London adjourned the extradition case of fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi till September 7, 2020. Modi had appeared before the court via videolink due to the novel coronavirus crisis. The first phase of the hearing from May 11 was to establish a prima facie case against Modi, but it had to be deferred as the Indian government submitted a further set of documents as corroborative evidence on Wednesday. While his remand hearing shall take place on June 11, the hearing of the extradition case is expected to be held between September 7 and 11.
Languishing in Wandsworth Prison since his arrest on March 19, 2019, Modi has been accused of being the principal beneficiary of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB to the extent of Rs 13,570 crore. In December 2019, a special PMLA court in Mumbai declared him as a Fugitive Economic Offender. Meanwhile, Modi's defence team cited the presence of rats, insects, uncovered drains and noise from slums near the Arthur Road jail to claim that there is risk to his human rights in the jail.
A controversy erupted after retired Bombay High Court judge Abhay Thipsay who joined the Congress in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections appeared as a defence witness for Nirav Modi in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday. Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed the Congress party for attempting to bail out a "criminal". According to him, Thipsay's deposition in Modi's extradition case had exposed the real face of Congress.
However, speaking exclusively to Republic TV, Thipsay dismissed the notion that he had defended the fugitive diamond merchant. The retired High Court judge contended that he was called as an expert. He also clarified that the videolink to join the court proceedings was sent by the court.
Abhay Thipsay remarked, "I am not defending (Nirav Modi). I was called as an expert and examine as an expert. I am not defending, there are advocates there to do it."