The Westminster Magistrates Court, presided by Judge Sam Goozée, ruled Thursday in favor of Nirav Modi’s extradition to India for adjudication of his involvement in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.
In 2018, billionaire jeweler and designer Nirav Modi was allegedly connected with defrauding India’s second-largest state-run bank of $1.8 billion. The fraud was undertaken by issuance of evergreen loans through using fake Letters of Undertakings in favour of Indian bank branches for importing pearls for a one-year period.
During the proceedings of extradition, Nirav Modi’s defense counsel purported that the Indian judiciary is politicized and not independent. In addition to this, Justice Markande Katju – former judge of the Supreme Court of India – gave his expert opinion, which centered primarily on the facet that the highest echelons of judiciary have now come under significant political and executive influence.
The defendant also relied on testimony given by Justice Abhay Thipsay, former judge of the Bombay High Court, regarding the non-applicability of the offence of cheating against Nirav Modi. However, he refused to adduce additional evidence on being subjected to strong criticism by the government. Furthermore, the evidence adduced by Justice Markande Katju was found to be tinged with resentment towards former senior judicial colleague. In addition to this act of engaging with media, the day before giving the evidence was also found to be questionable.
The court found no cogent and reliable evidence that the Indian Judiciary is no longer independent or capable of managing a fair trial in high-profile fraud cases with significant media interest. It held that the independence of the Indian judiciary, as enshrined in the Constitution of India, remains intact. On account of the aforementioned observations, the court ruled in favor of the extradition while granting Nirav Modi his right to appeal to the High Court.