SC Sends to Bombay HC CBI Plea Against Nod Granted to Nirav Modi’s Brother-in-law to Travel to Hong Kong

The Supreme Court on Thursday noted the willingness of Mainak Mehta, the brother-in-law of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, to authorise the CBI to access his offshore bank accounts in connection with the PNB scam probe and remanded back to the Bombay High Court for a fresh decision the case related to his plea to go to Hong Kong.

Nirav Modi is an accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) has alleged that Mehta received a large sum of money siphoned off in the PNB fraud scam and transferred them to his and his wife’s offshore bank accounts.

The CBI plea, filed through its Director, Banking Securities Fraud Branch, Mumbai, had challenged the August 23, 2022 order of the high court which had allowed Mehta to travel to Hong Kong and stay there for three months.

Remanding the case back to the high court for fresh adjudication, a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and J B Pardiwala said the CBI and Mehta may file additional documents there in two weeks and the plea will be decided within one month from the date of the order.

“We are of the considered view that it would be appropriate to remand the proceedings back to the Bombay High Court. We are desisting from the option of remanding the proceedings back to the special judge, CBI, at this stage so as to ensure that there is no further delay in the disposal of the plea of first respondent (Mehta) for travel,” it said.

“Be that as it may, we request the high court to reconsider the matter afresh including in the basis of the statement made on behalf of the first respondent during the course of the hearing…The high court shall consider the matter and shall pass fresh orders preferably within a period of one month from the date of this order.”

The bench noted that Mehta was “ready and willing” to give an authorisation to the CBI that it may directly approach the banks for the statement of accounts pertaining to the accounts, of which disclosure were sought, provided the probe agency furnished a time frame within which Mehta will be permitted to travel.

Giving reasons for transferring the case, it noted the developments which unfolded before it during past proceedings and said now the CBI wanted the authorisation letters to access and probe the foreign bank accounts and which has been agreed upon as well.

“As the case has evolved before this court, this is apparent that the situation, which was prevailing before the high court when the impugned order was passed on August 23, 2022, is substantially different at the present point…,” it said.

“The first respondent as noted above indicated that he will be willing to give the authorisation to the CBI, provided that the time frame is set down for the process to be completed,” it said, adding that the top court should not be deciding the issues which have cropped up for the first time in the case. The bench then disposed off the plea of the CBI.

The high court had upheld the order of the special CBI judge, Mumbai, quashing the look out circular issued against Mehta by the CBI and had permitted him to go to Hong Kong for a period of three months.

Mehta is a British national who lives in Hong Kong with his family and had come to India on September 8, 2021 for appearing in a Mumbai court.

On January 31, the top court had suggested Mehta give a “letter of authority” to CBI to access and probe his offshore bank accounts. The CBI had said Mehta is related to Nirav Modi and he has not cooperated fully in the probe.

The CBI had flagged issues with regard to non-disclosure by Mehta of transactions in bank accounts, including the one based in Singapore, and two transactions of USD 8.9 million and USD 1.8 million transferred by Modi’s father.

The probe agency had said Mehta should share the details with it after which his plea might be considered for travelling abroad.

It has alleged an amount of USD 30 million was sent by Modi, which was diverted by Mehta, and said it needs to know the details.

On August 23, 2022 the Bombay High Court dismissed the CBI’s plea against an order of a special court dealing with cases lodged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) that allowed Mehta to travel to Hong Kong. The CBI wanted a stay on the PMLA court order.

The CBI had submitted in the high court that Mehta was not named as an accused in the case and his role in the PNB scam was yet to be ascertained for which he needed to be interrogated.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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