PNB fraud accused Nirav Modi. (HT)
PNB fraud accused Nirav Modi. (HT)

Opinion | How the govt may move on Nirav Modi extradition

Nirav Modi extradition case will follow a similar pattern through the UK courts as that of Vijay Mallya's

Nirav Modi, the main accused in the $2 billion PNB fraud, was arrested in London on Wednesday, in a major boost to India’s efforts to bring back the fugitive diamantaire. A London court had issued an arrest warrant against Nirav Modi in response to an extradition request by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Nirav Modi has been denied bail and the legal proceedings for his extradition will now begin.

The case will follow a similar pattern through the UK courts as that of liquor baron Vijay Mallya. The 63-year-old businessman has filed an application seeking leave to appeal against his extradition order by UK home secretary Sajid Javid.

News of the certification of India’s request came just as Modi was tracked down to a three-bedroom flat in the Centre Point tower block of luxury apartments in the West End of London. The extradition of a fugitive from India to a foreign country or vice-versa is governed by the provisions of Indian Extradition Act, 1962. The basis of extradition could be a treaty between India and a foreign country. Under Section 3 of the Act, a notification could be issued by the Government of India extending the provisions of the Act to the country/countries notified.

Information regarding the fugitive criminals wanted in foreign countries is received directly from the concerned country or through the General Secretariat of the ICPO-Interpol in the form of red notices. The Interpol Wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) immediately passes it on to the concerned police organizations.

The red notices received from the General Secretariat are circulated to all the state police authorities and immigration authorities.

The process for sending an extradition request begins with the MEA, which receives requests from investigation agencies or a court of law and then transmits it to foreign governments. The foreign government then begins the extradition inquiry and the Magistrate (or any other designated authority of the foreign government) issues an order for extraditing the requested person. In the third stage, the matter is brought before foreign courts for judicial review, if the fugitive challenges the extradition order. On affirmation of the extradition order by courts, the foreign government finalises the extradition order and liaises with the requested state to surrender the person.

Modi will be subsequently brought before the court to secure bail and the legal proceedings for his extradition will begin thereafter. The legal processes in India, or the UK, will take a little longer than India would like. The most recent judgment supported the idea of Mallya being extradited. However, he still has the right to appeal there, as one has to consider that there are important issues of liberty involved for the alleged offender.

It could be a case of big diplomatic win for India, coming as it does just before the general elections 2019. Whether it will strengthen the rule of law regime in India, still has to be examined, but it is definitely a step in the right direction considering India’s earlier track record of failing to get major offenders extradited successfully.

Monika Negi is an assistant professor at National Law University, Delhi, and specializes in international law and international trade.

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