Former judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Markandey Katju will appear as a witness in the court of the United Kingdom against the extradition of runaway economic offender Nirav Modi to India. Justice Katju had confirmed the news that he will be testifying in the court proceedings before the London Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 11th September, Friday via video conferencing due to the pandemic.
Justice Katju specified that he would not be speaking before the court anything with regard to the merits of the criminal case against the offender Nirav Modi, instead, he has clarified that he will be opposing the Government of India’s plea for the extradition of Modi on the grounds that it is questionable as well as dubious that the Modi will receive a ‘free and fair trial’ in India especially with the current chaos going on with regard to media trials. Justice Katju has filed a written statement that stated that Modi is exposed to “media trial” in India and in such a “hostile atmosphere” it cannot be ensured that he will receive a free and fair trial in India. He also referred to some of the comments made by the Union Law Minister Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad against the fugitive offender Modi and questioned the ability of the Indian courts to try a particular case independently when the Law Minister has already professed him guilty even before any hearings are conducted. Justice Katju holds the view that the Judiciary in India is not sovereign and acts submissive to the government.
Former Judge Katju has mentioned many such illustrations in his submissions which explain the inclination of the Judiciary towards the government and support his claim that the Indian Judiciary is more committed to the Executive such as the 2018 press conference of the Judges, Ayodhya verdict, etc. The Judge mentioned that he will express before the UK Court that Nirav Modi is likely to be accused by the Indian government for the current drop in economic growth. The Indian government will just play another blame game and shift its burden of the economy to some other factor. The diamantaire Nirav Modi has been accused of multiple accusations of committing offenses under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Indian Penal Code, etc. The sections charging him with relation to the PNB scam are as follows:
- Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (cognizable and non-bailable offenses)
- Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code (criminal breach of trust by a public servant, merchant, banker or agent and it carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for such breach)
- Section 120-B r/w 420 of the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy and dishonestly inducing delivery of property)
- Section 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (public servant committing criminal misconduct)
It is claimed that there has been money laundering of up to Rs 13,000 crore. Once the reports of his scam were surfaced in February 2018, he fled India in May 2018 along with the relative Mehul Choksi. But he was soon arrested by the UK police in London in March 2019 at the request of Indian authorities. Since then further proceedings have been carried out by the UK Court. The court denied him bail and extradition proceedings have been initiated there. In regard to this case, a controversy had emerged after the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Justice (retd.) Abhay Thipsay, former Judge of Bombay and Allahabad High Court that he was trying to save the fugitive diamond merchant from being handed over to India. The former Judge in his response stated that he had given an independent legal opinion to Modi’s firm clarifying that charges of cheating cannot be proved against him as per the charge sheet made in the PNB case. “The main allegation on Modi was that he cheated the PNB and it was found that the case was not made out as the PNB officials were hand in glove as per their own case and there was nobody who was deceived. As per the Indian law, somebody should be deceived before a case of cheating is made out. The deception of the victim is necessary and the victim thereby parts with the property. So even if we go by the law, if the PNB officers were deceived and they issued a Letter of Understanding (LoU) then of course there could be a case of deceit depending on other factors. But in the present case, the officers consciously committed a breach and that was the allegation, that they were arrested by some corrupt inducement for that. This was the summarized version of the opinion”, stated by Thipsay. So, keeping in mind the present media trials chaos, economic crisis, and corona fever the extradition of Nirav Modi shouldn’t be proceeded for a while till things get a bit stable as per the Former Judge, Justice MarkandeyKatju.