Senior Partner Sarosh Zaiwalla comments on the arrest and possible extradition of Nirav Modi to India.
The central figure in an alleged $2bn fraud that rocked India’s state-owned Punjab National Bank has been arrested in London in response to a request from New Delhi to extradite him. Nirav Modi, a celebrity jeweller whose boutiques were in some of the world’s most prestigious shopping districts, was refused bail by a Westminster magistrates’ court on Wednesday, despite his lawyers offering to deposit a £500,000 security. Sarosh Zaiwalla,
Founder and Senior Partner at Zaiwalla & Co. LLP, UK said that issuing the arrest warrant is a first step of the legal process to extradite Modi - among the prime accused along with his uncle Mehul Choksi and others - in the 2018 Rs.13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.
"The arrest warrant clearly implies that the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the conduct described in the request is an aextradition offence. However, as per protocol, Scotland Yard will not address extradition requests until and unless the accused (Modi) has been arrested/presented before the court," Zaiwalla said.
Comparing this with another high-profile case of Indian fugitive liquor baron, Vijay Mallya, Zaiwalla said that he (Mallya) was arrested and bailed out nearly two months later, when his extradition hearings began. "Nirav Modi will be subjected to a re-run of the Mallya case proceedings, starting from being directed to Westminister Magistrate, taken into provisional custody, applying for bail and the then the court will hear his plea," the 71-year old Mumbai-born lawyer said.
Zaiwalla said it would be interesting to see if Nirav Modi has applied for asylum in UK, then the extradition proceedings are unlikely to begin until that (asylum) application is rejected. "A person who applies for asylum in the UK is given 'interim asylum' and his status as a legal resident of UK remains until his application is finally determined and he is given asylum or rejected," said Zaiwalla.