PNB fraud: Why extraditing Nirav Modi will not be easy for Indian govt
Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are two individuals caught in cases of fraud of epic proportions. But will India's laws, and its bilateral treaties with other countries be able to bring the fraudsters back? There are extradition treaties and MLATs (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) that help bring back offenders.
Extradition has only been possible in cases that are seen as crimes in both the countries in question. While there have been cases of economic fraudsters who have been brought to book through extradition, it hasn't been an easy process. Extradition in such cases stretches into decades more often.
Take for example the case of international fraudster Narendra Kumar Rastogi, who was extradited to India in July 2008 for crimes committed in 1989. He along with his brother Ravindra, Virendra, Subhash Chand and cousin Rakesh had cheated the government of India to the tune of Rs 54 crore in the period 1989-92.
The Rastogi Brothers had absconded to Dubai, US, UK and Singapore after committing the crime. Ravindra was deported from Dubai in 2003 and is out on bail. Narendra was deported in 2008 after serving 84 months in a US prison for a fraud committed there. Rakesh is still missing.
WHAT IS EXTRADITION
"According to the Ministry of External Affairs website, extradition is the surrender by one state to another of a person desired to be dealt with for crimes for which he has been accused or convicted and which are "justifiable" in the courts of the other states."
Firstly, Nirav Modi will have to be tried in Indian courts and then convicted. Once convicted, Indian agencies will have to determine the country of location of Nirav Modi.
The next course of action will be to find out if India has an extradition treaty with the concerned country, and then only a formal request of extradition can be made.
According to MEA, "A request for extradition can be initiated against a fugitive criminal, who is formally accused of, charged with, or convicted of an extradition offence."
According to the database, India has extradition treaties with 43 countries, the latest being Iran which ratified the treaty during the visit of Iranian President Rouhani in February 2018; and extradition arrangements with 9 countries.
While India also has extradition agreement with countries such as US and UK, it still has been an uphill task to get another economic fraudster Vijay Mallya back to India.
The nature of the offences between Mallya and Modi might differ, but the legal procedures remain the same. Sources have told India Today that even if Nirav Modi is in a country with extradition treaty, getting him extradited or deported will not be easy.