Diamond trader Nirav Modi.
Diamond trader Nirav Modi.

Govt waiting for responses on Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi extradition pleas

The Indian government said it had sent extradition requests to the UK and Antigua to bring back diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi to face trial in the PNB fraud case

New Delhi: India on Thursday said it was awaiting responses to its extradition requests sent to the governments of Antigua and the UK last week to bring back Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the two key accused in the 14,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud.

Last week, the Indian government said it had sent an extradition request to the UK to bring back Modi to face the law in India and, over the weekend, the Indian foreign ministry said an extradition request had been handed over to the authorities in Antigua to facilitate the return of Choksi.

India does not have an extradition treaty with Antigua though it does have one with the UK, under the provisions of which New Delhi is seeking to bring back business tycoon Vijay Mallya to stand trial on charges of alleged fraud and money laundering amounting to around 9,000 crore. However, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said both the Antigua government and the Indian government had notified each other as “designated Commonwealth country" under their respective domestic extradition acts.

“We have been told that they are examining the (extradition) request. So it is a little premature to react at this stage about their formal response," Kumar said with reference to the extradition request pending with Antigua.

He responded in a similar vein on the status of Modi’s extradition request that is pending with the UK.

On India drawing up a National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, which borders Bangladesh, in a bid to weed out foreigners, Kumar said that the Indian government had been in very close touch with the authorities in Bangladesh both before and after the publication of the draft NRC.

“We have assured the government of Bangladesh that this is still a draft...that was prepared under the orders of (India’s) Supreme Court and that the process of identification of the citizens of Assam is still underway," Kumar said. The Bangladesh government was of the view that the NRC process was an internal matter of India, he said.

“We (India) don’t apprehend any impact on ties with Bangladesh that remain excellent," he said.

When asked about an uptick in infiltration bids from Pakistan after the elections in that country that is expected to see Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan taking oath as Prime Minister soon, Kumar said India’s position was clear that which ever party forms the government, India would seek the winding down of the terrorist training infrastructure in Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of operating terrorist training camps on its soil and pushing in infiltrators into India to stoke terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of the country.