Justice Markandey Katju, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, will depose as a witness in a court in the United Kingdom against the extradition of fugitive economic offender Nirav Modi to India.
Confirming this to LiveLaw via e-mail, Justice Katju said that he will testify in the court proceedings before London's Westminster Magistrates' Court tomorrow via video conferencing.
While clarifying that he will not speak before the court anything on the merits of the criminal case against Nirav Modi, Justice Katju said that he will oppose the Government of India's plea for extradition on the ground that he was unlikely to receive a "free and fair trial in India". The written submission filed by him in the case states that Modi was subjected to "media trial" in India and that in such a "hostile atmosphere", he was unlikely to receive a free and fair trial in India.
Katju also referred to the public comments made by Union Law Minister Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad against Mr. Nirav Modi, and asked how will the Indian courts try the case independently when the Law Minister has already declared him guilty.
In this connection, he opined that the judiciary in India was not independent and was subservient to the Government.
He told that in his submissions, he has cited many instances to support his claim that the Indian judiciary was "committed to the Executive", such as the 2018 press conference of the judges, Ayodhya verdict etc.
He said that he will tell before the UK Court that Nirav Modi is likely to be made a "scapegoat" by the Indian Government for the drop in economic growth.
Diamond merchant Nirav Modi is facing accusations of committing offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Indian Penal Code etc in relation to the Rs.13,000 crore Punjab National Bank scam.
After the reports of the scam surfaced in February 2018, Modi fled India in May 2018, along with his relative Mekul Choksi.
In March 2019, he was arrested in London by UK police at the request of Indian authorities.
The UK Court has denied him bail, and extradition proceedings are progressing there.
Earlier, a controversy had occurred after Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that Justice (retd) Abhay Thipsay, former Judge of the Bombay and Allahabad High Court, was trying to save the fugitive diamantaire from being extradited to India.
Responding to this, Justice Thipsay told LiveLaw that he had only given an independent legal opinion to Modi's firm that charges of cheating will not stick against him as per the chargesheet prepared in the PNB case.
"The main allegation was that he cheated the Punjab National Bank and I found that the case was not made out as the PNB officials were hand in glove as per their own case and there was nobody who was deceived.
As per Indian law, somebody needs to be deceived before a case of cheating is made out. There has to be deception on the victim and the victim thereby parts with the property.
Suppose the PNB officers were deceived and they issued LoUs (letters of understanding) then of course there could be a case of deceit depending on other factors. But here they knowingly committed a breach and that was the allegation, they were arrested by some corrupt inducement for that. That was the gist of the opinion", Thipsay said.