Nirav has so far displayed no features of psychotic illness, say UK judges

LONDON: After his appeal against extradition to India was turned down by the UK high court, diamantaire Nirav Modi’s hope is either being allowed to appeal in the Supreme Court or a Rule 39 injunction from the European Court of Human Rights. “To get that he has to prove a real and imminent risk to his health,” said Ben Keith, extradition barrister at 5 St Andrews Hill.
Since March 20, 2019, he has been languishing in Wandsworth prison in London fighting extradition to India to face charges of defrauding PNB over Rs 6,477 crore, of laundering the proceeds of that fraud, and of redeploying employees from his firm Firestar Diamond as dummy directors to front shadow companies in Dubai and Hong Kong to give the impression he was carrying out agenuine jewellery trade, and then holding them in Cairo against their will, seizing their passports and destroying evidence.

Nirav Modi

Nirav’s argument against extradition had been that he was severely depressed and at risk of suicide and it would be oppressive or unjust to extradite him. This was the same argument Julian Assange and Shrien Dewani had used to evade extradition, to the US and to South Africa, respectively. In both cases the decisions were overturned on appeal.
Nirav had also sought to argue he would face torture and inhuman treatment in an Indian jail but his barrister Edward Fitzgerald KC focused mainly on his mental health as this had a lower threshold to meet. However, Nirav’s arguments didn’t meet the threshold required to prove that extradition was oppressive or unjust.
The two judges, Lord Justice Stuart-Smith and Justice Jay, found Nirav’s depressive disorder was, on balance, “moderate” and the risk of suicide he presented was “significantly less” than would be the case had it been “severe”.
Handing down judgment, they also noted Nirav “has so far displayed no features of psychotic illness. Although he has exhibited persistent suicidal ideation, he has neither attempted suicide or deliberate self-harm nor disclosed plans to do so, except in the most vague and general way”.
They were impressed with the Indian government’s assurances that medical facilities would be available 24×7, that he could re-ceive treatment from a private doctor, including from a psychiatrist paid for by him, and they were also impressed with a video of Barrack 12, Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai — where he and Vijay Mallya are meant to be housed.
They added that the arrangements, in a number of respects, were “more comprehensive than the regime that has been implemented at HMP Wandsworth”.
A big bone of contention in the case had been the fourth point in the Turner proposition — which establishes case law on whether it is oppressive or unjust to extradite someone.
The judges argued: “Nirav is recorded on multiple occasions in the past as having contemplated the idea of suicide at some point in future. This doesn’t support the notion that, if he were to attempt suicide, it would be as a result of his having lost the capacity to resist the compulsion/wish/desire/intention; rather, it suggests that his act would be rational and thought-through. We also remind ourselves that, in the words of the Turner proposition, there is a public interest in giving effect to treaty obligations and this is an important factor to have in mind. ”

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