Nirav Modi Extradition: Court Order Crucial, But Many Steps To Go
What happens next? Can Nirav Modi appeal this decision? How long will it take for the process to be completed?
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
On Thursday, 25 February, the Westminster Magistrates Court recommended the extradition of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi to India, after finding that there was a prima facie case for him to answer in the Indian courts.
Magistrate Samuel Goozee ruled the CBI and ED had provided evidence, which could be sufficient to lead to a conviction in connection with their allegations of fraud by Modi as part of the PNB scam. Modi was arrested in March 2019, and has been in custody since then, with bail applications rejected as he was considered a flight risk.
The court also rejected several key arguments by Modi, including his attempt to argue that he would not face a fair trial in India as there is a political witch-hunt against him, and that the conditions in jail would not be humane.
The Ministry of External Affairs says they are liaising with the UK authorities for an “early extradition”.
But what other steps remain in the extradition process? Can Modi appeal this decision? How long is it likely to be before Modi is actually extradited?
The Quint explains what happens now:
What Steps in the Extradition Process Are Complete?
The decision of the Magistrate’s Court is one of the most crucial steps in the extradition process, but it comes after a lot of work by the Indian authorities.
- Appropriate authority from India sends extradition request to UK – DONE
- UK Secretary of State certifies the request, sees if formalities have been complied with, sends the case to the Magistrate’s Court – DONE
- UK Magistrate’s Court reviews request to see if extradition offence made out, conditions for arrest satisfied – DONE
- UK Magistrate’s Court issues arrest warrant – DONE
- Nirav Modi arrested – DONE
- Magistrate’s Court considers Indian investigating agencies’ case for extradition, reviews evidence, listens to Modi’s arguments against extradition – DONE
- Magistrate’s Court recommends extradition, sends case to UK Home Secretary – DONE
Still To Go: Decision of Home Secretary
- If the Magistrate’s Court finds that the extradition request has merit, it will be forwarded to the UK Secretary of State for Home Affairs.
- The Home Secretary has to see if there are any statutory bars to extradition. These are very limited, and include the person potentially getting the death penalty, or being tried for other offences rather than just the extradition offence.
- Modi can also submit arguments to the Home Secretary as to why he shouldn’t be extradited.
- Timeframe: If there are no statutory bars, the Home Secretary will approve Nirav Modi’s extradition. The process is supposed to be completed within two months, though it can be extended at the Secretary’s discretion.
Still To Go: Appeals
- If the Magistrate’s Court forwards his case to the Home Secretary, Nirav Modi can appeal this in the UK High Court within two weeks of the Magistrate’s decision. However, this appeal will not be heard immediately, and will only be heard once the Home Secretary has made a decision.
- If the Home Secretary approves Modi’s extradition, he can appeal this in the UK High Court within two weeks of the Secretary’s decision. The UK High Court will then hear this appeal as well as his appeal against the Magistrate’s decision together. Modi will be able to make all his original arguments again on why no extradition offence is made out, and why his rights would be violated.
- If the UK High Court upholds the decision to extradite him, then Modi can appeal to the UK Supreme Court within two weeks of the High Court’s decision. The Supreme Court will only hear the appeal if it involves a significant question of law.
- Timeframe: The appeals will add at least another year, if not more, to the process.
- NB: India can also file appeals in these courts if extradition is refused.
Still To Go: Extradition by Home Secretary
- Once all avenues of appeal are exhausted, the extradition request returns to the Home Secretary, who has to make the final order for extradition.
- This can be complicated if the person makes a request for asylum. This appears to be the case with Vijay Mallya, whose appeal to the UK High Court was rejected in April 2020, and who was denied permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court a month later. He is yet to be extradited to India, with the UK authorities saying there are certain legal hurdles still to be dealt with.
- Modi had also made an asylum application to the UK, and is likely to pursue this even if his appeals are rejected. Given the magistrate’s findings on his allegations about a political witch-hunt and an unfair trial, however, this may not succeed.
- Timeframe: They are supposed to order extradition within two months, though this can be deferred at their discretion. This is what has happened in the case of Tiger Hanif, for instance.
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