The lawyers of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi on Saturday informed the special judge of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court MS Azmi that their client has written to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) highlighting his security concerns in lieu of his "effigy burning and mob lynching" in India.
They also argued that the ED was guilty of allegedly committing a fraud on the court as the content of this mail and several other similar communications by Nirav Modi to the ED were concealed from the court. The special PMLA judge was hearing the ED's plea to declare Modi as an economic fugitive. Diamantaire Modi was represented by advocates Vijay Agarwal and Ashul Agarwal in Saturday's hearing.
They argued that Nirav Modi could not be declared a fugitive as the ED did not comply with various legal requirements as per the Fugitive Act. They pointed out that the main reason due to which the Central agency was seeking to declare Modi a fugitive was because he left India under "suspicious circumstances" on January 1 this year. Modi's counsel argued that on January 1, there was no criminal case against their client nor his accounts were the non-performing assets (NPA).
"All his assets, properties were in India and Nirav Modi has left on valid documents through Indian immigration. At the time of leaving India, he was not wanted in any case. Because he is a frequent business traveller, it cannot be said that he left India under 'suspicious circumstances' hence the requirements of the law are not fulfilled," Modi's lawyer argued in the court.
According to Vijay Agarwal, they further asserted that the information being sought by the ED from Modi are pertaining to finances and their client being a designer was not in a position to provide the same as his employees were in custody, with all offices sealed and servers confiscated.
"He was the best citizen at that time and had left the country on a valid visa. He had various showrooms in the country and he hadn't liquidated anything. It is completely erroneous for the ED to say that my client left India on January 1, under suspicious circumstances. Claiming that my client isn't cooperating with the investigation is wrong as he has communicated with ED and it is, in fact, ED which has not responded," Modi's counsel Agarwal further informed media after the court proceedings.
Nirav's counsel has also moved before the Principal Judge stating that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case and the PMLA case should be heard by one judge and the special PMLA judge should not proceed till he gets the CBI powers. Special PMLA judge Azmi also agreed with the proposition and opined that he will reserve the orders.
Sharing details of the same, Agarwal said, "They are waiting if this power comes, only then this court can proceed with the matter. The power of Judge Azmi to act as a CBI special judge is awaited. Only then the order will be pronounced. Otherwise, the order cannot be pronounced by this court because my application before the principal judge is pending."
The matter was adjourned to December 5 for the next hearing.
Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a nine-point programme to take action against fugitive economic offenders during his address in the second session of the ongoing G20 Summit at Buenos Aires, Argentina.
On October 29, the lawyer of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi filed nine applications before Mumbai's Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in reply to the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) application, seeking to declare his client a fugitive offender.
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