The Indian High Commission in London on Thursday welcomed the Westminster Magistrates' Court ruling in the extradition case of diamond merchant Nirav Modi, wanted in India to stand trial on charges of fraud and money laundering related to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) letters of undertaking (LoUs) scam case.
A senior diplomat at India House said the judgment, which found a prima facie case against the accused, paves the way for the government of India and the high commission officials to liaise with the UK authorities on the next stages of the procedural matters for his early extradition to India.
"The judgment paves the way for the government of India, including the High Commission of India in London, to liaise with the UK authorities on the procedural matters," said the diplomat at the High Commission.
"As with previous extradition cases, we will press on with the next steps," he said.
District Judge Samuel Goozee's ruling will now be sent to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has two months within which to order the extradition. Following her decision, Modi has 14 days within which he may lodge an application with the High Court in London seeking permission to appeal against the magistrates' court judgment.
Therefore, the Indian authorities are viewing the ruling as "half the battle won" as the remaining procedural steps in the case could take months.
In a previous India-UK extradition case, that of former Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya also wanted in India on fraud and money laundering charges, all legal procedures had been exhausted when the UK Supreme Court cleared the path to his extradition in May 2020.
However, it later emerged that the 65-year-old businessman, who remains on bail in the UK, has applied to the Home Secretary for “another route” to stay on in the UK.
While that process is a confidential matter, it is believed that he may be seeking asylum status in the UK.
The Modi case, while having some parallels with the Mallya case, also has significant differences.
The foremost being that the 49-year-old jeweller has been repeatedly denied bail due to the seriousness of the allegations against him and remains behind bars in a London prison since his arrest in March 2019.
Photograph via Facebook