United Kingdom Home Secretary Sajid Javid Saturday certified India’s request for extradition of the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, a key accused in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam. The certification of the extradition request was confirmed after the fugitive jeweller was tracked living in a swanky 8-million pound apartment in London’s West End by UK newspaper The Telegraph.
As per the India-UK Extradition Treaty arrangements, the paperwork to issue an extradition warrant against Modi to be executed by Scotland Yard now lies with District Judge at Westminister Magistrates’ Court in London.
Hours after a video emerged showing Modi walking on the streets of London, the External Affairs Ministry said that the government was taking steps to extradite Modi from the UK, which they were already considering.
“The UK is still considering our request to extradite Nirav Modi…The government is taking all necessary steps for his extradition,” MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing. Meanwhile, the CBI also said that they are ready to extend all necessary help to UK authorities for Modi’s extradition.
“We are willing to extend all help to the United Kingdom through External Affairs Ministry in ensuring extradition of Nirav Modi,” agency spokesperson Wakankar said.
In a video released by The Telegraph, Modi can be seen on the streets of London trying to hail a cab, ducking questions by the journalist. The UK-based newspaper reported that the 48-year-old absconder is currently put up in a three-bedroom flat in London, where rent is estimated to cost 17,000 pounds a month. The video surfaced on The Telegraph‘s Twitter account, a day after authorities demolished the fugitive’s 30,000 sq feet seaside mansion in Maharashtra’s Kihim beach.
Meanwhile, a political slugfest has erupted over the latest development with the Congress slamming the government and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running a “fraudster settlement yojana” for such fugitives. Congress President Rahul Gandhi also drew parallels between Nirav Modi and PM Modi and said that the video shows an “uncanny similarity” between the two as both “believe they are above the law”. After facing flak from the Opposition, the ruling BJP hit back saying he began his fraud in 2011 during the UPA regime and claimed that it was the Modi government which detected and exposed it.
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar held Congress responsible for the alleged financial frauds involving Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya and added that the Modi-led government would ensure that all these fugitives are extradited to India. Addressing a press conference, he said that the fugitives “as well as those who have helped them, will be punished.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, meanwhile, alleged that the Modi government allowed economic offenders Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya to flee the country, wondering whether this was the prime minister’s ‘patriotism’. “Why did Modi government make the two flee country. Is this the patriotism of Modi ji?,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief was reacting to a media report saying Mallya and Nirav Modi have met several times in the past to discuss evading extradition to India.
The fresh focus on the absconding jeweller with the publication of the video is of little significance for the CBI and ED cases against Modi. However, the red notices which have been issued against him in early August last year have gained strength, thus becoming a cause for embarrassment for the government, ahead of the general elections as the matter now rests with the MEA to ensure swift action. Until Modi comes back to India, the cases against him remain at the stages they are. The video of Modi freely walking on the streets of London actually suggest that the government’s diplomatic efforts have not succeeded in persuading the UK to act against Modi.
The government today cleared its stand that they were already aware that Nirav Modi was in the UK, as MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar at a media briefing, commented on his video and said, “Just because he has been spotted doesn’t mean he can be immediately brought back to India as there is a process in place. We have made a request for extradition, it is for the UK government now to consider our request and respond to the demand of the CBI and ED for extradition.”
Asserting at repeated intervals, he said, “What we have been told that both these requests are under the consideration of the British government.”
The Telegraph reported that in spite of Modi’s bank accounts being frozen and nearly Rs 100-crore worth property being attached by the Indian authorities, he is involved in a new business in London which he treats as his safe haven.