UK court rejects Nirav Modi's bail plea for third time

The next hearing in the case will happen on May 30. In the meantime, Nirav Modi will be taken back to prison.

Nirav Modi's lawyer argued that conditions at Wandsworth prison, where he is lodged, are unliveable. Nirav Modi's lawyer argued that conditions at Wandsworth prison, where he is lodged, are unliveable.

The Westminster Magistrates' Court in London rejected the third bail plea presented by fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi on Wednesday. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot heard Modi's fresh bail application today. The next hearing in his extradition proceedings has been scheduled for May 30. He will now be taken back to Wandsworth prison where he can discuss further course of action with his legal team.

During the hearing, Modi's legal team tried to convince the judge of a change in circumstances to secure bail for him. It also doubled the bail security to 2 million pounds and offered he would stay on 24-hour curfew at his London flat.

"Conditions in Wandsworth (prison) are unliveable... Modi is willing to abide by any conditions you choose to impose," his barrister Clare Montgomery told the Judge during the hearing.

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However, Judge Arbuthnot denied bail to Modi as she feared that he would fail to surrender if granted bail.

Earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of Indian authorities, said Modi should not be granted bail as the evidence presented by the defence does not amount to change of circumstances required to the third bail application.

A team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), led by a joint director rank official was also present at the court to oppose Modi's bail application. Reports suggest that the team held a meeting with the CPS before the hearing and presented some fresh evidence to present before the court.

Modi is believed to have been living in the UK on an Investor Visa. He had applied for the 'golden visa' in 2015 when it was relatively easier for super-rich individuals to acquire residency rights in the United Kingdom based on a minimum of 2 million pounds investment.

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He was denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing on March 20 soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard officers from a central London bank branch as he tried to open a new bank account and has been in custody at HMP Wandsworth prison in south-west London since then.

He was denied bail a second time on March 29 by Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot who ruled that there were "substantial grounds" to believe that he would fail to surrender and also noted that "very unusually in a fraud case" the accused had made death threats to witnesses.

(With PTI inputs)