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UK court set to hear Nirav Modi’s new bail application today

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London: A UK court is set to hear a new bail application on Wednesday filed by fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is fighting extradition to India on charges of nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.

The 48-year-old is expected to be produced before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to make another attempt at being let out on bail until his trial in May next year.

He has been in custody at Wandsworth prison in south-west London, one of England’s most overcrowded prisons, since his arrest in March. “The bail application is at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday November 6. The grounds cannot be made public until the hearing,” said a spokesperson for the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in the extradition proceedings in court. Modi has reportedly claimed anxiety and depression in his latest application, with earlier bail applications at the court being rejected by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, and then also on appeal at the High Court in London, as he was deemed a flight risk.

 

His legal team has previously described their client’s experience in prison as “damaging” and offered stringent electronic tag and other conditions akin to house arrest at his posh Centrepoint apartment in the West End of London in an attempt to persuade the judge to grant bail.

“His experience in custody has been vivid and damaging…he is willing to abide by any bail conditions imposed by the court because Wandsworth is unliveable and makes the effective preparation of his case virtually impossible,” his barrister Clare Montgomery had told Judge Arbuthnot earlier in the year. They had also doubled the initial bail bond offer of 1 million pounds to 2 million pounds in an attempt to sway the court. However, Arbuthnot had concluded that Modi was wanted in connection with a “large fraud” and the doubling of security was “not sufficient to cover a combination of concerns that he would fail to surrender”.

In June, Modi’s legal team took his appeal against that ruling to the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where a judge was told about the diamond merchant’s troubled state of mind in “confidential” documents. “The circumstances he has had to endure at Wandsworth have been personally difficult and the confidential exhibits reflect the experience that has marked him deeply. The reality is that he is not the cold-blooded hardened criminal as claimed by the government of India but a jewellery designer from a long line of diamond dealers, and regarded as being honest, careful and reliable,” Montgomery told the High Court, adding that a number of individuals were willing to offer sureties and substantial sums to back up the claim that Modi is not a man who plans to run.

But in her judgment, Justice Ingrid Simler concurred with the Chief Magistrate that there were “substantial grounds” to believe that Modi would fail to surrender as he does possess the means to “abscond”. After considering all the material “carefully”, the judge said she found strong evidence to suggest there had been interference with witnesses and destruction of evidence in the case and concluded it could recur if he was let out of prison.

There are no strict limits on the number of times Modi can apply for bail, but he would have to produce substantially modified grounds in a new application. He has meanwhile continued to appear via videolink before the magistrates’ court in London, appearing in a standard prison-issued grey tracksuit and mostly freshly shaved and upbeat. His next routine 28-day appearance required under UK law is listed for November 11, a date that still remains on the court’s lists.

At a hearing last month, Judge Nina Tempia had confirmed that his extradition trial is scheduled between May 11 and 15 next year, with the case management hearings set to begin from February next year. Modi has been behind bars at Wandsworth prison since his arrest on March 19 on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government.

During subsequent hearings, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told that Modi was the “principal beneficiary” of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.


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Forces capable of giving befitting reply to those who cast evil eye on us: Rajnath

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New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said India has never been the aggressor but its armed forces are capable of giving a befitting reply to those who cast an evil eye on it.

The Navy has maintained vigilance to ensure that 26/11 is not repeated, Singh added while addressing the media at the Naval Commanders Conference. India, he said, has never been “offensive”.

“It’s character is such that it has not attacked any country nor conquered even an inch of land belonging to another nation. But the armed forces have the capability and strength to give a befitting reply to anyone who casts an evil eye on us,” the minister said.

 

He was responding to a query on Pakistan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed reported statement that his country would retaliate against India with a nuclear attack for targeting Pakistani military posts in Jammu and Kashmir’s Tangadhar sector.

According to Indian Army officials, there was unprovoked firing by Pakistan in the sector on the intervening night of Saturday-Sunday. On Sunday, the Indian Army retaliated by launching heavy artillery attacks, targeting at least four terror camps and several Pakistani military positions opposite the Tangadhar sector along the Line of Control, officials said. Discussing the Indian

Navy, the defence minister said he was confident that India’s seas are safe in the hands of the force.

“Our Indian Navy’s resolve is that 26/11 will not be repeated under any circumstances and it has ensured tight vigil,” he said, referring to the November 2008 terror siege of Mumbai. The Indian

Navy is marching towards indigenisation and its ships have a high percentage of indigenous equipment, Singh added. The minister also said all three services have placed emphasis on the need to reduce defence imports.

“All the three forces are also working to pick up niche technologies to meet the challenges,” he said. The three-day second edition of Naval Commanders’ Conference began here on Tuesday. The conference is the apex level biannual event for interaction between Naval commanders for the deliberation and formulation of important policy decisions.

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Next war with indigenised weapons: Army chief

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New Delhi, Oct 15: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday said the Defence Research and Development Organisation has made strides in ensuring that requirement of the country’s defence services are met through home-grown solutions, adding that the next war will be fought and won through indigenised weapons systems and equipment.

Speaking at the 41st DRDO Directors Conference, Rawat said: “The DRDO has made strides in ensuring that requirements of the services are met through home-grown solutions. We are confident that we will fight and win the next war through indigenised weapons systems and equipment.”

With a network of 52 laboratories, the government agency DRDO is charged with the military’s research and development covering various fields like aeronautics, land combat engineering, armaments, electronics, missiles, and naval systems.

 

The Army chief said that the Defence industry of India is a budding industry and the time has now come to look at the development of systems for future warfare and start preparing for “non-contact warfare.”

Rawat asserted that along with artificial intelligence, the future lies in the development of cyber, space technology, laser, electronic warfare and robotics.

“We are looking at systems for future warfare. We have to start looking at development of cyber, space, laser, electronic and robotic technologies and artificial intelligence,” he said.

The Army chief said that if the timeline between the design development and production of any weapon system of equipment is to be reduced then it would be better to embed the service officers along with Research and Development.

Calling for joint research by Army officials and DRDO, he said: “In a joint project, the success and failures will become a joint responsibility and we will not start pointing fingers at each other.”

On the occasion, Rawat recalled APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary stating that the late President had set benchmarks and standards for the Defence Research and Development (R and D) community, which is a challenge for scientists who are now emerging.

“I am quite sure the scientists will live up to those expectations,” he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were also present at the event. (IANS)

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Major shift in govt’s way of handling ‘terrorism’: IAF chief on Balakot

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New Delhi: The strategic relevance of Balakot air strikes is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism, Air Chief RKS Bhadauria said on Tuesday.

In his Air Force Day message, the Air Chief said, “The strategic relevance of this (Balakot air strikes) is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism. There is a major shift in the government’s way of handling militant attacks.”

Stressing that the present security environment in the neighbourhood is a case of serious concern, the Air Chief said Pulwama attack is a stark reminder of the persistent threat to defence installations.

 

Earlier, the Chiefs of three services paid floral tributes at the national war memorial on the occasion of 87th Air Force Day.

“On February 26 this year, the IAF successfully struck camps located at Balakot. On the next day, the IAF successfully thwarted Pakistan Air Force’s attempts to attack our military establishments. In the aerial engagement that followed we shot down a PAF F-16 fighter aircraft and lost a MiG-21,” the IAF chief said in his remarks during Air Force Day press conference on October 4.

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