Indian Court Rules Celebrity Jeweler Nirav Modi As Absconder In Import Duty Evasion Case (Photo: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images).


A local court in India’s westernmost Gujarat state ruled on Wednesday (10) that the celebrity jeweller, fugitive, Nirav Modi is an absconder in a case filed against him by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in an alleged customs duty evasion case to import diamonds.

Chief judicial magistrate, BH Kapadia said that Modi is an absconder hearing a case registered by the Mumbai zonal branch of DRI against the fugitive in 2014. DRI has alleged in its petition that Modi’s firms located at the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Gujarat’s port city, Surat, have involved in customs duty evasion.

The court has asked Modi to present himself before it by November 15, otherwise, the DRI would be allowed to take necessary action against him as per the Indian law.

The DRI had filed a petition under the ‘criminal procedure court’ seeking that the fugitive should be declared as an absconder after arrest warrant against him couldn’t be executed.

Modi moved abroad earlier this year before an alleged multi-billion dollars fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) came into light. India’s federal investigation agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a case against him and others for their roles in the PNB fraud case.

The current case in Surat pertains to the 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.

The Surat SEZ imports goods at zero per cent import duty and later exports the same goods as final products after making necessary value addition such as polishing, cutting of raw diamonds, pearls, and others.

DRI had alleged that the diamonds and pearls imported at zero per cent by the firms at Surat SEZ were secretly sold to the local purchasers. The local goods were used to export in the place of imported goods, according to DRI.  According to the Mumbai branch of DRI, an export consignment seized by it from Sahar Air Cargo was found to be highly overvalued.