New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the company Firestar Diamond to ask fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi to return to the country.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S. Mehta that Modi is a “fugitive from justice.”
Additional Solicitor General Sandeep Sethi and central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan told the court that Modi is absconding and not joining the investigation and opposed the plea of Modi’s firm Firestar Diamond seeking relief.
The court was hearing two pleas filed by fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi’s firm Gitanjali Gems and billionaire Nirav Modi’s firm Firestar Diamond challenging the apparently illegal seizure of documents and articles by the probe agency in money laundering cases related to the multi-crore rupee Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.
The court directed the Firestar Diamonds’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal to ask Nirav Modi to return to the country. Aggarwal responded that he is handling the matter related to company and he did not know Modi’s whereabouts.
To which, the court said: “Oh, so you are blissfully unaware of all this.”
The court expressed serious concern on Modi’s statement that he will not submit to jurisdiction of Indian agencies or courts and said: “We are dealing with a fugitive here according to them (ED). A fugitive from justice stands on a different footing.”
The court listed all the matters for hearing on May 3 asking ED to file its response to the pleas moved by Gitanjali Gems and Firestar Diamonds against the agency proceedings.
Gitanjali Gems has challenged certain provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and called the ED’s action as “absurd” and not in accordance with the object and purpose of the PMLA.
The firm has also claimed that there was no connection of its property with the supposed proceeds of the crime.
Last month, Firestar Diamond moved the court seeking that the seizure of movable properties of Nirav Modi and depositing these with the PNB be quashed.
Diamond jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi have been accused of defrauding the PNB of Rs 12,600 crore, with Rs 1,300 crore being added to the fraud kitty on February 26.