Interpol issued a Red Notice Monday against fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Modi — the third such notice issued against members of the family including Nirav Modi himself, but excluding his uncle Mehul Choksi, who is a co-accused with him in the Rs 13,500-crore fraud in Punjab National Bank. With Interpol having so far held out on India’s requests for a Red Notice against Choksi, who is now a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, the question that arises is how far such a notice would help, if at all, in getting him arrested.
Two kinds of notices
Of late, the CBI has been arguing that it does not require a Red Notice against Choksi, as it would only help locate Choksi – which has already been done, with the Antigua and Barbuda government having confirmed that Choksi is now a citizen and living there.
By Interpol definitions, locating of a fugitive is covered under a Diffusion Notice. Such a notice had been issued against both Nirav Modi and Choksi back in January. The Antiguan government has stressed it would not detain Choksi until a Red Notice is issued.
It is under a Red Notice, which was earlier called Red Corner Notice, that arrest in a foreign country is covered. According to Interpol, a Red Notice is a request to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition. It is issued by the General Secretariat at the request of a member country or an international tribunal based on a valid national arrest warrant.
A Red Notice in itself does not confirm that the wanted individual will actually be arrested. The success of a Red Notice depends on the diplomatic heft of the requesting country. According to Interpol, a Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant. “Interpol cannot compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice. Each member country decides for itself what legal value to give a Red Notice within their borders,” Interpol says on its website.
When Interpol publishes a Red Notice, its purpose is simply to inform all member countries that the person is wanted based on an arrest warrant or equivalent judicial decision issued by a country or an international tribunal. Interpol does not issue arrest warrants.
For example, Red Notices against fugitives wanted by India in Pakistan, such Dawood Ibrahim, have not led to their arrest. Again, the UK has detained many individuals wanted in India based on Red (Corner) Notices but sent only one to India so far. On the other hand, Indonesia detained underworld don Chhota Rajan based on a Red Notice and sent him to India in 2016.
Options after Red Notice
Interpol also gives an individual the right to contest a Red Notice published against him. An accused can challenge a Red Notice in the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files. Of late, Interpol has been allowing accused individuals to intervene on Red Notice requests, too. Accused such as Choksi, Zakir Naik and Lalit Modi, have raised objections and queries on Red Notice requests against them. No Red Notice has been issued against the other two either. Indian agencies believe that Interpol must allow accused to challenge a Red Notice only after it is published.