THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate argued before a special court in Mumbai Tuesday seeking a Letter of Request to be sent to the United Kingdom to extradite former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi to India. Stating that the ED had not been able to execute the non-bailable warrant against Lalit Modi since he is reportedly in the UK, the agency said they “badly need him” to conduct further investigation.
The ED had earlier made a similar bid to bring back Vijay Mallya, chairman of Kingfisher Airlines, through the Ministry of Home Affairs but had faced a legal hurdle. The MHA, the nodal agency to process MLAT requests on criminal cases, had informed the ED that the MHA “does not undertake service of non-bailable warrants of arrest under MLAT”.
An ED official said the request had therefore been made through the court.
“If the court allows the application, it will be sent to the Ministry of External Affairs in India to the foreign ministry in UK to be forwarded to the local court, as is the process under MLAT,” said advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, counsel for the ED.
The ED’s plea was heard before special Judge PR Bhavake made under Sections 57 and 59 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act along with Article 11(1)(a) & (d) of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). India has an operational MLAT with UK since 1995.
“Under Article 11, the two countries shall offer the widest measure of mutual legal assistance in investigation and prosecution in relation to criminal offences including the transfer of persons including persons in custody for the purpose of assisting in investigation or giving evidence in proceedings,” argued Venegaonkar in court.
In the ED case, Modi is facing allegations of having acted against the interests of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ‘with an intention to make illegal gains’. The ED alleges that Modi as the chairman of the IPL, dealt with media rights owned by the BCCI.
The ED had earlier sought details from UAE and Singapore seeking details of transactions between Singapore-based Multi Screen Media and World Sports Group with whom Modi had signed a deal in 2009. The BCCI has alleged irregularities in this deal claiming that the contract with MSM while signing a fresh agreement with WSG was done without any tender process being followed by Modi.
The court will decide on the plea on Wednesday.