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PNB Fraud Case: Centre Opposes Plea Seeking Independent Probe

The order comes after Nirav Modi wrote to employees of his diamond chain, urging them to find new jobs.

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India
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The Union government, on Wednesday, 21 February, opposed a plea seeking an independent probe and the deportation of Nirav Modi in the PNB fraud case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said that it was at present not "saying anything on the matter" and listed the PIL filed by lawyer Vineet Dhanda for further hearing on 16 March.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said that he was opposing the PIL on various grounds, including that an inquiry had started after the FIR was registered.

The PIL has made Punjab National Bank, Reserve Bank of India and the ministries of finance and law and justice parties. It has sought a direction for initiation of deportation proceedings of Nirav Modi and others allegedly involved in the banking fraud, preferably within two months.

The CBI has already registered two FIRs – one on 31 January and another a few days ago – against absconding diamond merchant Nirav Modi, his relative Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Gems and others, for allegedly defrauding the PNB of about Rs 11,400 crore.

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Dhanda’s lawyer told ANI on 20 February that the petition sought strict action against bank employees instrumental in siphoning off the money.

We want strict action against bank employees instrumental in siphoning off money, 3-year imprisonment be converted to life imprisonment for those responsible for the scam.

The PIL has also sought the setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the banking fraud, allegedly involving jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

This is the second petition that has been filed in the apex court with respect to the case.

Earlier on Monday, another plea, filed by advocate ML Sharma, had said that the SIT should consist of retired judges of the apex court while claiming that the banking fraud has caused serious injury to the general public and the state's treasury.

It should be not investigated by an agency "being controlled by the political leaders/authorities", Sharma's petition said.

The plea has alleged that loans were issued in the case without following Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) financial rules and regular systems.

The plea by Dhanda has sought the court's direction to the finance ministry to set guidelines for grant of higher amount of loans of Rs 10 crore and above to ensure safety and its recovery.

It has also sought a directive for the constitution of a committee of experts who would find the details of bad debt cases in the country.

(With inputs from PTI)

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