On Thursday, the Congress party downplayed the efforts of the Union government for the extradition of fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi to India. Nirav Modi has been accused of being the principal beneficiary of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking as part of a conspiracy to defraud the Punjab National Bank to the extent of Rs 13,570 crore. Since his arrest on March 19, 2019, he has been languishing in the Wandsworth Prison after being repeatedly denied bail. Speaking to the media, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid indicated that the UK legal system deserved credit instead of the Indian investigative agencies.
At the same time, he welcomed the extradition judgment and expressed hope that Nirav Modi would return to the country and tell the truth. Earlier, a controversy erupted when Congress member Abhay Thipsay who is a retired Bombay High Court judge appeared as a defence witness for Nirav Modi in May 2020. While Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed the Congress party for attempting to bail out a "criminal", Thipsay dismissed the notion that he had defended the accused.
Whose success is it? Our agency's or of UK law? What should have been done is being done, and we welcome that. Let us just hope that he (Nirav Modi) comes back (to India) and tells the truth: Congress leader Salman Khurshid pic.twitter.com/mFUYSLDwLb— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2021
Pronouncing the extradition verdict earlier in the day, District Judge Samuel Goozee of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that a prima facie case of money laundering is established. Observing that the Letters of Understanding had been issued between 2011 and 2017 without being entered in the CBS system of the bank to mislead authorities, he did not accept that the accused was involved in legitimate business. Expressing satisfaction that Nirav Modi could be convicted, the judge also rejected other arguments made by the defence counsel.
For instance, the court dismissed the claim that Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had tried to influence the case. Dismissing concerns about Nirav Modi's mental health, it contradicted the allegation of overcrowded prisons in India. Maintaining that Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail is far more spacious than the current prison where he is being held, the judge made it clear that the Indian government doesn't need to provide further details of healthcare that will be provided to the accused. Furthermore, District Judge Samuel Goozee said that there is no evidence to suggest that the fugitive diamond merchant will not receive justice if he is extradited to India.