The UK Westminster Court ruling that Nirav Modi be extradited to India in the $2-billion Punjab National Bank fraud case — that almost brought the bank down — and subsequent money-laundering as well as interference with witnesses and evidence-tampering is a shot in the arm for Indian law enforcement agencies that have been trying to catch him ever since the scam emerged in January 2018. The diamond tycoon is now a step closer to facing the stringent economic offences law of India. He was incarcerated in the UK in March 2019 and remains in jail since then with all seven of his bail pleas rejected over fears that he would abscond. The CBI and the ED need to be fully prepared to counter any further appeals by the fugitive against his deportation and not let him escape their net. For, the billionaire, in all likelihood, will fight tooth and nail and move the higher court. He may even explore the option of seeking asylum.
Another high-profile fugitive, liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has managed to remain in the UK even nearly three years after the extradition order by a lower court and almost one year after the doors of the UK’s high court and supreme court closed on him when he lost appeals against the order. During the bankruptcy proceedings last month, it was revealed that Mallya had applied to British Home Secretary Priti Patel for ‘another route’ that could enable him to stay on in the UK. It is believed to be the asylum route. He is wanted for a Rs 9,000-crore fraud in borrowings from some Indian banks by his company Kingfisher Airlines, that has since become defunct.
The path to enforcing the rule of law is uphill as a system riddled by corruption, fraudster-official-politician nexus, shoddy investigation and lack of transparency impedes the process of justice delivery. Unsurprisingly, India’s record in bringing back multi-crore scamsters who flee the country is rather poor. That of the 72 economic offenders who have taken refuge abroad, the government has managed to bring back just two in the past six years only emboldens the criminals.