Billionaire fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi has been granted permission to appeal against his extradition from the UK to India to face fraud charges on the grounds that a return to India would harm his mental health and place him at risk of suicide.
The High Court judge Martin Chamberlain ruled that Modi should be given a “substantial hearing” to appeal against an earlier ruling at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London, which had ruled that Modi was fit to be returned to India to face the charges of defrauding the Punjab National Bank of more than USD 1 billion as well as further charges of money laundering, witness intimidation and destruction of evidence.
Modi’s lawyers had long argued that their client suffered from severe depression and would not receive adequate medical care if he is imprisoned at the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai pending his court appearance.
They stated that his mental health condition had deteriorated further during his incarceration at Wandsworth Prison in South London following his arrest in London in March 2019 and the strict restrictions placed on prisons during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They had also introduced several medical experts to give evidence that Modi was at high risk of suicide. In his appeal to the High Court, Modi’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC, argued that the ruling by Westminster Magistrate’s Court judge Samuel Goozee would violate Modi’s human rights as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Modi, once the jeweller to some of the biggest stars of Hollywood and Bollywood, stands accused of defrauding the state-owned Punjab National Bank of more than USD 2 billion through a carefully orchestrated scam involving dummy corporations and directors. He is also charged by the Indian government with witness intimidation and destruction of evidence.
He has been held at Wandsworth Prison in London since his arrest in the British capital in March 2019. Modi’s extradition was ordered by judge Samuel Goozee sitting at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London in February.