London: UK High Court approved fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi`s permission to appeal against extradition to India on mental health grounds. Last month, Nirav Modi`s lawyer pleaded against extradition from the UK, saying his removal from the country would seriously impact his mental health and would worsen “suicidal feelings”.
England`s Crown Prosecution Service, which is representing the Indian government in the case, dismissed Modi`s concerns and asked the judge to throw out the appeal.
Modi`s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald, in an application to the High Court to appeal against his extradition, stated that Modi was “severely depressed” and asked that the extradition be blocked on mental health grounds.
The application also claims that Modi`s mental health and suicidal feelings would worsen if he were to land in the “COVID-rich” Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai. Fitzgerald claimed that it would be “oppressive” to extradite the 50-year-old former billionaire.
Modi, once the jeweller to some of the biggest stars of Hollywood and Bollywood, stands accused of defrauding the state-owned Punjab National Bank of more than USD 2 billion through a carefully orchestrated scam involving dummy corporations and directors.
He is also charged by the Indian government with witness intimidation and destruction of evidence. He has been held at Wandsworth Prison in London since his arrest in the British capital in March 2019. Modi`s extradition was ordered by judge Samuel Goozee sitting at Westminster Magistrate`s Court in London in February.
Modi`s mental health – he had claimed that depression ran in his family – and the threat of it becoming severe if sent back to India formed one of the pillars of his defence.
Judge Goozee, however, ruled that it was not unusual for someone in Modi`s situation and incarcerated to suffer from depression and that should not be a bar to extradition.