By Poonam JoshiLondon [United Kingdom], July 22 (ANI): Pleading against extradition to India, fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi has told the UK High Court that his removal from the country would seriously impact his mental health and would worsen "suicidal feelings".
Modi's lawyers also told the UK High Court that his extradition would be a "flagrant denial of justice" owing to his severe and ongoing mental health problems which would see him "sectioned" under existing laws in the United Kingdom.
Modi's lawyer Edward Fitzgerald, in an application to the High Court to appeal against his extradition, stated that Modi was "severely depressed" and asked that the extradition be blocked on mental health grounds.
The application also claims that Modi's mental health and suicidal feelings would worsen if he were to land in the "COVID-rich" Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.
Fitzgerald claimed that it would be "oppressive" to extradite the 50-year-old former billionaire.
Modi, once the jeweller to some of the biggest stars of Hollywood and Bollywood, stands accused of defrauding the state-owned Punjab National Bank of more than USD 2 billion through a carefully orchestrated scam involving dummy corporations and directors.
He is also charged by the Indian government with witness intimidation and destruction of evidence.
He has been held at Wandsworth Prison in London since his arrest in the British capital in March 2019.
Modi's extradition was ordered by judge Samuel Goozee sitting at Westminster Magistrate's Court in London in February.
Modi's mental health - he had claimed that depression ran in his family - and the threat of it becoming severe if sent back to India formed one of the pillars of his defence.
Judge Goozee, however, ruled that it was not unusual for someone in Modi's situation and incarcerated to suffer from depression and that that should not be a bar to extradition.
In his application to the High Court, Fitzgerald claimed that Judge Goozee had made a "succession of errors", including that conditions at Arthur Road jail would be better than at Wandsworth.
He pointed in particular to the Covid 19 pandemic rampaging in Maharashtra which had brought the state's healthcare system to the "brink of collapse", which would lead to Modi not receiving the care that he needs.
England's Crown Prosecution Service, which is representing the Indian government in the case, dismissed Modi's concerns and asked the judge to throw out the appeal.
A ruling is expected shortly. (ANI)