The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed diamantaire Nirav Modi's company, Firestar Diamond, to ask him to return to the country, dubbing him a "fugitive".
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta passed the direction after the company's lawyer said relief should not be denied to it on a technicality that Firestar International had authorised the filing of petitions by its subsidiary, Firestar Diamond.
"If we should not stress upon technicality, then ask Mr Modi to come back. Ask him to come back," the bench told advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for Firestar Diamond and Firestar International.
Expressing "serious concern" over Modi's statement that he will not submit to jurisdiction of Indian agencies or courts, it said "we are dealing with a fugitive here according to them (ED). A fugitive from justice stands on a different footing."
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has conducted searches and seizure of the company and its assets in connection with a money laundering case related to the over Rs 110 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.
The ED, represented by Additional Solicitor General Sandeep Sethi and central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, had contended that no relief be granted to the two companies as Modi is a "fugitive from justice", was "absconding" and not joining the investigation.
The bench also said there was merit in ED's contention that while the "driving force behind the companies" (Modi) was not submitting to jurisdiction, his companies cannot be given any discretionary relief.
The observations came during the hearing on the pleas of Modi's and Mehul Choksi's firms challenging the ED proceedings against them as well as various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The court listed all the matters for hearing on May 3.
It asked ED to file its response to the pleas moved by Choksi's Gitanjali Gems and Modi's Firestar International, the parent company of Firestar Diamonds which had earlier moved high court against the ED proceedings.