Mumbai (Maharashtra): Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the auction of 15 paintings, seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), belonging to fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi scheduled to take place tomorrow.
A bench headed by acting Chief Justice BP Dharmadhikari refused to pass any interim order on the matter and observed that "there is no justification about the delay in filing this petition so we are not inclined to give any interim order".
The High Court, while passing the order on the petition filed by Rohin Modi who is the son of Nirav Modi, also made a provision that the proceeds of the auction be kept in a national bank and the receipt of the same be submitted to the court.
Senior advocate Amit Desai, appearing for Rohin Modi, claimed the attached paintings belong to Rohin Trust, in which he is a beneficiary, and that he was not informed about the auction adding that there is no proof that these paintings were part of any money laundering activities.
He also said that these items were not part of the attached items filed with the original chargesheet.
Additional Solicitors General Anil Singh, appearing for the ED, argued that these items were part of the attached items and a corrigendum was issued about the attached items which are part of the second chargesheet.
Singh also said that Rohin Trust has three members, including both his parents, who are accused in the case and added that at the time of registration of the case, Robin was a minor and became an adult only in May 2019.
Nirav Modi, the prime accused in USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, is currently lodged at Wandsworth prison in south-west London and is wanted for his alleged role in the Rs 13,570 crore loss caused to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) along with his uncle, Mehul Choksi.
Nirav, 48, was arrested in March last year by Scotland Yard in connection with the case. His five-day extradition trial is due to begin on May 11.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that the Indian government has put all "resources on the ground to ensure early extradition" of Modi and Choksi.
Nirav Modi was declared a fugitive economic offender under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act on December 5, 2019. The order on the confiscation of his properties is yet to be issued.