Five months after former judge of the Bombay High Court, Abhay Thipsay, was examined before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court that is currently hearing the extradition proceedings against fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, he has backed out of being orally examined in court in the case again after his first deposition was “given a political colour”.
Nirav is currently lodged in a prision after the court in UK refused to grant him bail for the seventh time. The final hearing in the extradition case, which was scheduled for December, is likely to be pushed to January 2021, as the UK court is busy with other cases, said sources. The order of the court is likely to come by February or March 2021.
Thipsay told The Indian Express that Boutique Law, the London-based law firm representing Nirav that had approached him earlier for his independent legal opinion on whether the cheating charge under section 420 of the IPC was made out against the diamantaire, had again approached him for two other opinions after a supplementary chargesheet was filed in the alleged Rs 13,600-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.
“They (law firm representing Modi) made one request (for legal opinion). While that was pending, a supplementary chargesheet was filed against Modi. The offences were different in the other request. They had sought my legal opinion on the charges of destruction of evidence and criminal intimidation that were not there in the (case) earlier. I had given my second opinion on whether these charges are made out or not. But I had told them that unless they (government of India) give an undertaking that they will not discuss my evidence in a press conference, I will not come (before the court). Ironically, they refused. They said we have no control over the press. The issue was not that. The issue was that they will not hold a press conference,” said Thipsay.
Thipsay, who had earlier given an expert opinion stating that the cheating charge was not attracted in Modi’s case, said his opinion on charges of destruction of evidence and criminal intimidation were also the same.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had held a press conference in May in which he alleged that Thipsay, a primary member of the Congress, had deposed in Modi’s “defence” at the behest of his party. Thipsay had, however, said it was his professional opinion for which he had accepted fees.
Modi is accused of routing transactions of about Rs 13,600 crore through fraudulent LoUs of PNB. He left India in the first week of January 2018.
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