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The CBI on Thursday termed the judgement of a UK court in the Nirav Modi's case as "significant" and said it should serve as a reminder to all fugitives, who have indulged in large value frauds, that they cannot escape the law merely by changing their countries of residence.

In a statement, the CBI said the court order vindicated the painstaking probe carried out by the agency especially since Modi had raised various issues on admissibility of evidence, the fairness of the investigation, trial, prison conditions, availability of health facilities in India and extraneous consideration, with a view to divert attention from his own acts.

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Earlier, the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London accepted the contention of the Indian government to extradite Modi saying that the evidence against him "is prima facie sufficient to order his extradition to India to face the charges".

The court also upheld the assurances of India and rejected the submissions of defence regarding human rights violations, fair trial and prison conditions and decided to send Modi's case to the Secretary of the State, the UK for a final decision.

The "judgement is a significant achievement in the context of CBI's efforts to curb corruption and is a reminder that fugitives, who have eluded the process of law after commission of large value frauds, cannot consider themselves above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions", the CBI said.

It said the agency "gracefully acknowledges the painstaking and continuous efforts made by the counsels of Crown Prosecution service in forcefully presenting India's case and also the efforts of various government agencies, especially officers of High Commission of India in London, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, in coordinating the extradition trial, timely submission of evidence and assurances and prompt follow up of the case at all stages".

The CBI had registered the case on January 31, 2018, against the partner of three private firms and others including then officials of Punjab National Bank on a complaint from Punjab National Bank on the allegations that the accused had hatched a criminal conspiracy amongst themselves to defraud the Punjab National Bank to the tune of 6,498 crore (approx) by fraudulently issuing Letters of Undertaking.

During the investigation, the CBI conducted searches at 42 premises and arrested 15 people. Several witnesses were examined and voluminous documents were collected.

Investigation showed that the accused officials of the Punjab National Bank, in conspiracy with said owners of the firms and others, had fraudulently issued a large number of LoUs to overseas banks for obtaining Buyer's credit in favour of said three firms without any sanctioned limit or cash margin and without making entries in the CBS system of the bank.

The first charge sheet was filed on May 14, 2018, against 25 accused including Modi. The second charge sheet was filed on December 20, 2019, against 30 accused people including the 25 charge-sheeted earlier in respect of 150 outstanding fraudulent LoUs which had resulted in the wrongful loss of 6805 crore (approx.) to PNB.

It was also alleged that Modi in conspiracy with other accused had siphoned off the funds obtained as buyer's credit through dummy companies established by him in Dubai and Hong Kong which were shown as an exporter of Pearls to three Nirav Modi firms and importer of Pearl studded jewellery from his firms.

Modi had escaped from India on January 1, 2018, before the registration of the case in CBI. A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued by the trial court against him followed by a red corner notice in June 2018 by Interpol.

He was arrested by the UK Police in London in March 2019 and his repeated applications for bail were rejected by the Westminster Magistrates' Court and High Court, London.

After the second charge sheet was filed, additional evidence was submitted to the Court in London for the total fraud amount of Rs. 6805 crore (approx.). In addition, a second extradition request for the offences of intimidating the witnesses and destruction of evidence was also submitted to the UK government.

The extradition proceedings against Modi were initiated before the Westminster Magistrate Court in London.

In extradition requests, CBI submitted voluminous oral and documentary evidence to substantiate the charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal misconduct by public servants, destruction of evidence and criminal intimidation of evidence.

The hearing of the first extradition request was held in Westminster Magistrates' Court, London during May 2020 and the hearing of the second extradition request was held during September 2020.

The video of a barrack of Arthur Road Prison, Mumbai, was submitted by India which was also played in the court. The hearing on the admissibility of the evidence was held on November 3, 2020, and the final submissions by both sides were made before the court in January 2021.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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