With uncertainty looming over the extradition of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi and his brother Neeshal Modi, a special court has allowed the CBI to separate their trial from two others accused in the multi-crore rupees Punjab National Bank scam.

While Nirav is facing extradition proceedings in the UK, Neeshal is a Belgium citizen.

Two others accused in the same case, an authorised signatory of Modi's firms, Hemant Bhatt, 71, and former PNB Deputy Manager Gokulnath Shetty, 66, have remained in CBI custody for over five years, since the scam erupted in January 2018.

Nirav Modi
Nirav ModiIANS

In October, the CBI Special Public Prosecutor A. Limosin had submitted a plea before the Special CBI Court Judge S.M. Menjoge, saying that after completing the probe, a charge sheet was filed against 25 people before the court on May 14, 2018, and later named 30 accused in its supplementary charge sheet.

However, the Modi siblings Nirav and Neeshal were unavailable during the entire probe, so the Special Court had issued non-bailable warrants of arrest against them after 10 days, which remain unserved as the two wanted accused are abroad.

The plea said that though Nirav's extradition process is on with uncertainty on how long it could take, there were little prospects of Neeshal's immediate return as he is a citizen of Belgium, and sought to separate the Modi brothers' trial from the other two.

Observing that "speedy trial is the right of any accused and they cannot keep languishing in jail without trial," the Special Judge Menjoge has permitted the CBI to try the duo of Shetty and Bhatt separately.

Nirav Modi
Nirav ModiINC

The Modi brothers, along with others, including their family members and bank officials are accused in the sensational PNB fraud of over Rs 14,000-crore that hit the banking industry in January 2018.

Efforts by the CBI and other agencies to nab them proved futile as they already fled the country days before the PNB admitted to the scam, and later the Enforcement Directorate also entered the probe.

Declared a fugitive economic offender in December 2019, Nirav Modi also faces money-laundering charges and several of his properties-assets were seized and some of them sold off to recover a small portion of the huge dues to the banks.

(With inputs from IANS)