On Friday, arrested jeweller Nirav Modi will appear in court in London. His counsel is likely to seek his release on bail, while the UK authorities will present India’s case against him and the Interpol warrant based on which he was arrested, as a key accused in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam case.
The arrest by Scotland Yard officially sets the stage for the beginning of extradition proceedings, although it remains to be seen when and how fast New Delhi will be able to bring him back, if at all.
Nirav Modi: India, UK & extradition
India and the UK have an Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992 and in force since November 1993. To get Nirav Modi sent back to the country, Indian agencies will have to send an extradition request through diplomatic channels, besides sending a team of probe officials to assist the Crown Prosecution.
Interpol had issued a red corner notice on the request of Enforcement Directorate. Recently, British journalist Mick Brown of The Daily Telegraph tracked him on the streets of London. The arrest followed days later.
Extradition treaties are bilateral in character. Most of them, however, appear to follow a traditional set of principles, going by many judicial pronouncements. First, extradition applies only with respect to offences clearly stipulated as such in the treaty, and the accused is proceeded against only in connection with the offence for which his extradition was requested. Second, the offence for which extradition is sought should be an offence under the national laws of the requesting country as well as of the requested country. In the current context, Article 2 of the India-UK Extradition Treaty states that an extradition offence is one which, under the laws of each contracting state, is punishable by imprisonment for at least one year. Among the charges pressed in India against Nirav Modi, the CBI FIR includes IPC section 409 for criminal breach of trust, under which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment.
Previous extradition requests
India has not yet managed to secure any extradition from the UK under the treaty. The most recent request is for extradition of Vijay Mallya. Eight other requests are pending. These are for Rajesh Kapoor (2011) for forgery and fraud; Tiger Hanif (2004) for alleged involvement in terrorism; Atul Singh (2012) in connection with sex crimes; Raj Kumar Patel (2009) for forgery, Jatinder Kumar Angurala and Asha Rani Angurala (2014) for bank fraud and cheating; Sanjeev Kumar Chawla (2004) for cricket betting; and Shaik Sadiq (2004) for conspiracy and theft.
In addition, the UK has rejected extradition requests for Raymond Varley, Ravi Shankaran, Velu Boopalan, Ajay Prasad Khaitan, Virendra Kumar Rastogi and Anand Kumar Jain. Varley, wanted for sex crimes, claimed that he was suffering from dementia and he was not the man wanted in India. The UK court rejected India’s request on the basis of his claim of dementia. The request for extradition of Shankaran, accused in the Navy war room leak, was rejected by the British court for lack of evidence. The requests for extradition of Boopalan, Khaitan, Rastogi and Jain, too, were rejected by the UK court on grounds of insufficient evidence.
On the other hand, Bangladeshi national Mohammad Abdul Shakur, wanted in the UK on murder charges, was extradited from India recently under the treaty.
A list of 60 fugitives who are wanted by India, and are reportedly hiding in Britain, has been shared between the two countries. The UK, for its part, has provided a list of 17 people whose custody it has sought under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
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