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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Arthur Road Jail to host Nirav Modi if he’s extradited

The Westminster Magistrate's Court in the UK had last month denied bail to the fugitive economic offender who has been behind bars at one of the most overcrowded prisons in England

Mumbai: Authorities at the Arthur Road Jail here have kept barrack number 12 ready if fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi is extradited from the UK, a home department official said.

The prisons department last week shared information with the State home department about the status of the Arthur Road Jail and facilities that can be provided there, in case Modi is to be lodged in the barrack, the British official said. The Centre had recently asked the State government about the same, he said.

Nirav Modi is accused of a $2 billion worth fraud with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and money laundering.

Nirav Modi was arrested by Scotland Yard officers in London on March 19 and faces extradition to India.  He was arrested as  “principal beneficiary” of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoU) as part of a conspiracy to defraud the PNB and then laundering the money.

The Westminster Magistrate’s Court in the UK had last month denied bail to Modi who has been behind bars at one of the most overcrowded prisons in England, Her Majesty’s Prison Wandsworth. The state government recently submitted a letter of assurance to the Centre about the facilities which it can provide in the prison, he said.

In the meantime, the Crown Prosecution Service has said if Nirav Modi is given bail during extradition hearings, then that’s another thing. But he should not be given bail at this time as he faces serious charges.

The prosecution had last year furnished a similar letter of assurance to the Centre in connection with the extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is in the UK and is wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore.

According to the letter, if extradited, Modi will be kept in one of two rooms in barrack number 12 of the Arthur Road Jail, the official said.

As of now, three prisoners are lodged in one room while the other one is vacant, he said, adding that if extradited, Modi and Mallya will be lodged in the same room, having an area of 20 ft by 15 ft and equipped with three fans, six tube lights and two windows. The prison department also assured that Modi will be kept in a cell where the number of other detainees is not more than three, the official said.

“If lodged in the barrack, Nirav Modi is likely to get 3 sq m personal space, as per European norms, per person lodged in correction centres, and he will be provided a cotton mat, pillow, bed-sheet and blanket,” he said.

Nirav will be permitted out of his cell for exercise and recreation for a reasonable amount of time, which will not more than an hour a day, the official said. The prison department also assured that adequate light, ventilation and storage for personal belongings will be provided, the official said.

Nirav Modi will also get clean drinking water every day, round-the-clock medical facilities, and toilet and washing facilities, he said. All such facilities will be provided without any discrimination, as per lodging policy in vogue.

“As the barrack is highly secured and the policemen posted there are well-trained to handle any situation, there has been not any incident there in the past of torture or ill-treatment,” he said.

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