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.
Stone pelting reduced by 40-45 per cent: Shah
New Delhi, Nov 27: Incidents of pelting stones at security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have reduced by 40-45 per cent since the abrogation of provisions under Article 370, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday.
Speaking at an event organised by Republic channel, Shah said it took 70 years to abrogate the provisions and Prime Minister Narendra Modi resolved to do it.
He said until provisions under Article 370 were abrogated, it was impossible to “defeat terrorism” in Jammu and Kashmir.
The home minister said Pakistan “misguided the youth of the region, armed them and propagated terrorism.”
He added that India’s response is determined by Pakistan’s action and “if they want peace, they’ll have to end terrorism.”
Shah said the number of security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir today is the same as it has been since 1990.
Additional forces deployed there have been removed, he added.
From August till now, stone-pelting incidents have reduced by 40 to 45 per cent in Kashmir, the minister said.
Referring to his strong reaction in Parliament while presenting bills on Jammu and Kashmir in the last session, the minister said his aggression was not against any one person or party but against the “mismanagement” of the security situation in the country.
“It is natural that the home minister of the country would react to such things strongly when the opposition questions the locus-standi of Parliament to make laws on this subject,” he said.
On the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the Union minister said no other country will allow illegal migrants to settle down.
India, similarly, would also not allow any illegal immigrant to settle within its borders and thus, NRC is of utmost importance, along with bringing the CAB, he said.
The home minister said Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian refugees coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh because of religious persecution would be given Indian citizenship.
He said these three are Muslim countries and people of other religions have been facing religious persecution there.
“These refugees take shelter in India to escape the situation, hence, they cannot be considered as illegal immigrants,” Shah said.
“Taking such refugees into India’s fold has been done in the country in the past by different governments as well, eg., for refugees coming from Uganda and Sri Lanka,” he said.
The minister said the Ram Mandir issue had stalled for many decades and political parties have used it for their vote bank politics.
He said the Supreme Court has given an “impartial judgment” on the issue based on facts and not religious beliefs or faith and that has been welcomed by all religious beliefs and communities across the country, including the Muslims.
Shah said the government would abide by the Supreme Court order and even one day more than the allocated 90 days would not be taken to comply with the order.
The minister said as compared to Ram Mandir issue, Sabarimala issue is related to religious beliefs and faith and concerns with pilgrims praying in the temple.
Ram Mandir issue was a civil suit relating to a land dispute, he said.
The minister said political parties who are supporting Article 370 should come forward and name at least one benefit it brings.
On the triple talaq issue, he said India has a rich culture and tradition to engage in debate and discussion on any issue based on facts and figures.
The minister said as opposed to that, in the triple talaq issue, the opposition is up against this bold step taken by the government just for vote bank politics and their arguments have no basis in facts.
The government was committed to take this decision for the empowerment of Muslim women in the country, Shah said.
No power can stop Ram temple construction in Ayodhya: Rajnath
Pandu (Jharkhand): Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said no power in the world could get in the way of construction of a “grand” Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Addressing a poll meeting here in Bishrampur assembly constituency, the minister also noted that the Rafale fighter jets, acquired by the country from France, were capable of destroying terror camps across the border.
Amid “Jai Shree Ram” chants, he said, “A grand Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya and no power in the world can stop that from happening. The path for construction of the temple has been cleared by the Supreme Court.”
Talking about the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the veteran BJP leader said, “In 1952, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee (founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor to the BJP) had said that there cannot be two Constitutions, two prime ministers and two flags in one country. We have fulfilled his dream and lived up to the promise made in our poll manifesto.” Condemning the Maoist violence over the past two days in the poll-bound state, he said, the BJP governments at the Centre and the state would give a befitting reply to those responsible for the attack.
“I have seen a couple of incidents happening in Jharkhand. You should be rest assured that the BJP governments at the Centre and the state will not allow anybody to use guns.
A befitting reply will be given to them,” he insisted. Left-wing extremists killed four state police personnel in Latehar district and gunned down two persons, including a local BJP leader, in Palamu district in separate ambushes on Friday and Saturday. Slamming the Congress, Singh said that the party’s efforts to taint the reputation of the central government with corruption allegations failed to bear any fruit.
“The allegations of corruption in Rafale deal were aimed at maligning the government’s image. The Congress tried hard… but its efforts were futile. I visited France to receive the fighter jet and also flew a sortie in one of the aircraft,” the defence minister asserted. He said the country had sent out a clear message that it would not cower in the face of terrorism. “Rafale fighter jets are coming to India. We do not need to cross the borders now. We can use Rafale from our own territory to target terror camps across the border.
That is the power India has achieved under the Narendra Modi government,” the veteran BJP leader contended. Accusing the Congress of “hoodwinking people” for votes since independence, Singh claimed that “the country would have been this powerful 30 years ago”, had the erstwhile governments kept the promises they made to the people.
Listen to needs of people: PM to Guvs, Lt Guvs
New Delhi, Nov 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked governors and lieutenant governors to listen to the needs of the people and work towards uplift of the underprivileged sections of the society, including minorities.
He made these remarks at a conference of governors and lieutenant governors here.
He also made a special mention of healthcare, education and tourism sectors where there were new opportunities waiting to be harnessed for job generation and betterment of the poor and downtrodden, a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Modi said as they work to discharge their constitutional responsibilities, the governor and LGs should listen to the needs of the common man.
The prime minister urged the governors to work towards uplift of the underprivileged sections of the population, including the scheduled tribes, minority communities, women and the youth, which includes working with state governments and utilising the existing schemes and initiatives,” the statement said.
He said that the institution of governor has a special role to play in realising a cooperative and competitive federal structure.
Modi observed that as India celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence in 2022 and the 100th anniversary in 2047, the role of the governor in bringing the administrative machinery closer to the people of the country and showing them the correct path becomes even more important.
“As we celebrate 70 years of the framing of the Indian Constitution, governors and state governments should also work towards highlighting the service aspects of the Indian Constitution, in particular the duties and responsibilities of the citizens. This will help to bring about participatory governance in the truest sense,” he was quoted as saying.
He pointed out that governor’s office could also be used for specific objectives like spreading awareness about tuberculosis and making India free of this disease by 2025.
In their roles as chancellors of universities, governors could help inculcate the values of nation building among our youth and help to inspire them towards greater achievements, the prime minister said.
He was of the view that due to their administrative structure, Union territories can emerge as a role model in terms of development.
The prime minister expressed happiness that the latest edition of the conference would see innovative detailed ‘break-out’ discussions in five sub-groups on specific issues and challenges — tribal issues, reforms in agriculture, Jal Jeevan Mission, New Education Policy and Governance for ‘Ease of Living’; whose reports will then be discussed in the larger format by the participants.
At the 50th annual governors’ conference, 17 first time governors and lieutenant governors, including the Lt. Governors of the newly formed union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, participated .
Besides Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Home Minister Amit Shah and Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat were among those present on the occasion.