A court in Surat on Wednesday declared fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi as an absconder in a case filed against him by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence case (DRI) for allegedly evading customs duty on import of diamonds.
Chief Judicial Magistrate B H Kapadia declared Modi an absconder in a case filed against him in December 2014 by the Mumbai zonal unit of the DRI.
As per the DRI, Modi’s companies, located in the Surat Special Economic Zone (SEZ), were allegedly involved in customs duty evasion.
Public Prosecutor Nayan Sukhadwala told PTI the judge asked Modi to present himself before the court by November 15, or else the DRI would be permitted to take further action against him.
The DRI had moved an application under the Criminal Procedure Court seeking that the diamond merchant be declared an absconder as an arrest warrant against him could not be executed.
Modi fled the country this January before an alleged multi-billion dollars fraud at Punjab National Bank came to light and the CBI registered a case against him.
The case in Surat pertains to diversion of duty-free imported diamonds and pearls by Firestar International Pvt. Limited, Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd, and Radashir Jewellery Company, all situated in Surat SEZ and owned by Modi.
In the Surat SEZ, goods can be imported duty-free on the condition that they will be exported after value-addition (such as polishing and cutting of raw imported diamonds).
The DRI alleged that duty-free diamonds and pearls imported by these companies were secretly sold in local markets, and in their place locally produced products were exported.
An export consignment seized by the DRI from Sahar Air Cargo in Mumbai was found to be highly overvalued.