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India wins legal battle, Westminster Court refuses conditional bail to Nirav Modi

While Refusing Plea Of 48-year-old Nirav Modi, Westminster Magistrates Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot Said 'no Sufficient Ground For Giving Conditional Bail'.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Raghwendra Shukla | Updated on: 29 Mar 2019, 09:00:30 PM
Nirav Modi will remain behind bars as London's Westminster Magistrate court has fixed April 26 as the next date of hearing. (File Photo: Twitter)

New Delhi :

In a big development, Westminster Court on Friday rejected fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi's bail plea. This is the second time when his bail plea has been rejected by the court. He will remain behind bars as London's Westminster Magistrate court has fixed April 26 as the next date of hearing. In the next hearing, he will be produced through video conferencing. 

Indian agency officers were seen showing thumbs up and shaking each other’s hands after the judge refused Modi's bail plea, reports ANI.  

While refusing plea of 48-year-old Modi, who faces the possibility of extradition to India, Westminster Magistrates Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said 'no sufficient ground for giving conditional bail'. 

"Nirav Modi's attempt to try and seek citizenship of Vanuatu shows he was trying to move away from India at an important time," said the judge.

Arbuthnot is the same judge who had ordered the extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya last December.

Earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) - on behalf of Indian authorities – told the court that Modi threatened to kill an eyewitness and tried to bribe another Rs 20 lakh to evade arrest. The CPS also submitted the additional file of evidence in court.  

Looking more dishevelled and dressed in a similar white shirt as his first court appearance last week, Modi was brought to the dock to be produced before Arbuthnot and sat behind a glass enclosure as the hearing got underway.

CPS barrister Toby Cadman told Judge Arbuthnot that there was a "substantial risk" that the prime accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud to the "amount of between USD 1 and 2 billion", would flee and attempt to interfere with witnesses and evidence.

"Given the nature and seriousness of charges and the resources available to him? there will be an overwhelming desire to flee the jurisdiction and interfere with the administration of justice," said Cadman.

Giving details of Modi's attempt to interfere with witnesses, the CPS barrister made specific reference to one such witness, Ashish Lad, who Modi "threatened to kill in a phone call" and also offered him an incentive of Rs 2 million to provide a false statement.

Nilesh Mistry and three other witnesses were similarly targeted by Modi and mobile phones and a server holding "material critical to the fraud" were destroyed at request of Modi, raising fears of further "destroying of evidence" if bail was granted, the court was told.

"Due to the nature of his business he has at his disposal diamonds, gold and pearls," added Cadman.

The court was also told about Modi's attempt to attain citizenship in jurisdictions less likely to be willing to extradite him to India, including Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean at the end of 2017 on the basis of a USD 200,000 investment. However, Vanuatu citizenship request was declined as a result of the ongoing Indian criminal investigation.

Modi's defence team, led by barrister Clare Motgomery, who was also the barrister for former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in his extradition case - opposed the CPS claims of Modi being a flight risk and stressed that in fact Modi sees UK as a "haven where his case will be fairly considered".

With PTI Inputs

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First Published : 29 Mar 2019, 08:29:37 PM