New Delhi: China cleared the decks for jeweller Nirav Modi’s possible arrest in Hong Kong on Monday, a day after a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Mumbai issued non-bailable warrants against him and Gitanjali Gems Ltd promoter Mehul Choksi.

With reports of Modi’s presence in Hong Kong, China told India that Hong Kong can accede to India’s request to arrest Nirav Modi based on local laws and mutual judicial assistance agreements.

A senior government official familiar with the development stated that “the line can be interpreted as China not standing in the way of Nirav Modi’s arrest."

CBI said the matter now rested with the ministry of external affairs.

Minister of state for external affairs V.K. Singh told parliament last week that “the ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Deepak Modi by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the People’s Republic of China."

Asked about India’s request, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that “according to the one country two systems and basic law of the HKSAR, under the assistance and authorisation of the central government, the HKSAR can make proper arrangement on judicial mutual assistance with other countries," he said. The CBI court on Sunday issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against Modi and Choksi in the Rs12,636 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

On 8 March, Choksi wrote to the CBI, stating he would not join the investigation for “four to six months."

While Choksi’s lawyer Sanjay Abbot said that he was “not aware of the issuance of an NBW," Modi’s lawyer criticized the court’s move.

“NBW should not have been issued against Nirav Modi as he has responded to each and every email notification and summon by the CBI. Maybe CBI did not present the same in court and my client can’t share any documents either as his servers have been shut down and his passport has been taken away," Modi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said in an interview.

PTI contributed to this story.

shaswati.d@livemint.com

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