London, Sep 7 (PTI) The UK court hearing the extradition case of Nirav Modi on Monday reviewed a recently-shot video of Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail where the fugitive diamantaire is to be held if he is extradited to face the fraud and money laundering charges brought by the Indian government.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian authorities in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, played the video alongside providing some information on the coronavirus testing and facial covering measures in place to protect the inmates and staff at the jail.
The video was similar to the one shot back in 2018 in relation to the extradition case against former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya, who is also to be held in Barrack 12 which – according to the government of India’s video – is used for lodging “high-profile offenders”.
Mallya, meanwhile, remains on bail in the UK after his final court appeal against extradition to India was rejected in May, with the UK Home Office indicating some pending issues in the “ongoing legal case”.
CPS barrister Helen Malcolm told Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Monday that the video proves that the prison conditions pose no risk of breaching the UK’s Article 3 obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, relating to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
“It was thought appropriate to present a more up-to-date video of Barrack 12, which proves there is no risk of a breach of Article 3,” she told Justice Samuel Goozee.
The video, with a voice-over confirming that it was shot without any artificial light sources, gave a tour of the jail and specifically Barrack 12.
The “adequate amenities and infrastructure” listed included light and ventilation as well as ample space for strolls and a backyard for daily exercise.
An attached bathroom with a curtain for privacy, three ceiling fans and six tubelights and an LED TV were also highlighted among the facilities available to inmates of the barrack.
The CPS said the barrack remains unoccupied at present but even if it were to be occupied by other inmates, it would still be “infinitely spacious”.
Modi’s defence team has indicated that it intends to challenge the prison conditions in the course of its arguments this week to try and establish it as inadequate to meet the UK’s human rights requirements.
The first day of a five-day trial set to conclude on Friday focussed on the CPS elaborating the government of India’s arguments to establish a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering against the 49-year-old diamond merchant, who observed the proceedings remotely from Wandsworth Prison in London where he has been lodged since March last year.
Modi is subject to two sets of criminal proceedings, the first brought by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) relating to a large-scale fraud said to have been committed upon PNB and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case, relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
A further extradition request was made in February this year, certified by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, of two additional offences relating to allegations that Modi interfered with the CBI investigation by causing the disappearance of evidence and intimidating a witness.
The CPS must establish a prima facie case against Modi to allow the judge to rule that he has a case to answer before the Indian courts.
If the judge finds a prima facie case against Modi, it will go back to Patel to formally certify his extradition to India to stand trial.
A ruling in the case is expected at the end of this year after a final hearing scheduled for December 1. PTI AK CPS