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The London High Court, on Monday, August 9, granted permission to the fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi to appeal against his extradition from Europe to India. He had appealed in the UK court against his extradition claiming mental health issues and human rights violations.
What is the Nirav Modi case?
Nirav Modi is an accused under the PNB scam case who had absconded before the scam came to light in India in 2018. He faces charges of money laundering and fraud in the estimated Rs. 13,600 crore scam. On constant requests for his extradition by the Indian government, he was arrested by the UK police in 2019. In February 2021, a UK court finally approved his extradition to India to face the fraud charges.
What are the laws accessed against extradition?
The UK judges are bound to regularly consider the mental health issues of individuals during the extradition proceedings. The courts have to make sure the repatriation verdicts align with the European convention of human rights.
During the hearing, Nirav Modi’s lawyers cited his deteriorating mental health and stated his severe depression and high risk of suicide.
The judge granted permission to Nirav Modi to fight as per Article 3 and Section 91 of the UK 2003 Criminal Justice Act.
Section 91 of the UK Criminal Justice Act
According to this section, the court has to consider the mental and physical condition of the person extradited. The courts have to either issue discharge orders or wait and adjourn the hearing till the person satisfies those physical and mental conditions.
Article 3 European Convention of Human Rights
This article relates to the right to life, liberty and security and the law state its applicability for the Prohibition of Torture.
Article 3 protects an individual from extradition to a country if the courts believe that the person might face torture and inhuman treatment in that country.
How is Article 3 applicable in this case?
The lawyers of Nirav Modi claimed in the court that his extradition was against Article 6 (right to a fair trial in India) and Article 3 (torture and inhuman treatment). The lawyers argued that given the huge publicity of his trial and the media commentaries, it would become difficult for him to achieve a fair trial in India. He might also be subjected to poor treatment in an Indian prison as stated in the court.
Therefore, the Indian government had to submit evidence regarding adequate facilities being available at the Arthur road jail in Mumbai. The government assured of the Indian prison facilities matching the European standards for space, hygiene, food, water and medical support.
After approving Nirav Modi's appeal to fight against his extradition on the grounds of mental health, the judge highlighted the importance of understanding the adequacy of the prison in Mumbai in preventing suicide attempts, given the deteriorating mental health of inmates.
The UK Prosecution service, representing the Indian authorities in the court, are reviewing the next legal step. According to a PTI source, if Nirav Modi wins the appeal in the high court, he cannot be sent back unless the government of India successfully gets permission to appeal at the Supreme Court on a law concerning the public.
This article has been written by Khanak Sharma for the Paradigm.
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