December 12, 2017 8:00:47 pm
The Supreme Court today pulled up the Centre for “not even bothering about” its orders on extradition matters and questioned the government’s will in getting persons evading law back from foreign countries. The remarks were made by the top court in the matter relating to extradition of a businesswoman, who is facing criminal trial in India but was allowed to travel to London on apex court’s direction in January, 2016.
The apex court had earlier forfeited Rs 86 lakh deposited by her as security and directed for revoking of her passport as well as initiated contempt proceedings against her. “What is this attitude? You don’t even bother about the orders of the Supreme Court. We have been virtually extending threats to the officers in the Ministry of External Affairs but you still don’t act,” a bench of justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar said.
The top court said that “somebody has ran away from the country but the government isn’t doing anything about it”. It asked Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and senior advocate V Mohana: “We have been issuing orders in this case for last eight months but you have done nothing. You should tell us what is going on and why are you (Centre) not acting?”
The bench even expressed its annoyance over different government lawyers on different dates in the matter and said “We think we will now call the secretaries in the MEA. They will be called to court to explain. That seems to be the only way forward now.” The bench posted the matter for further hearing after the ASG assured it of taking instructions on the issue.
The court directed the ASG that all formalities relating to the extradition of the woman be completed by then. Ritika Awasty, a promoter of Bush Foods Overseas Pvt Ltd, is facing criminal trial in Uttar Pradesh on charges of cheating, forgery and criminal breach of trust.
She had challenged the Allahabad High Court order refusing to quash FIR lodged against her but was granted bail and allowed to travel abroad by the apex court on an undertaking for looking after her husband and daughter in London. She had given an undertaking to return to India by March 31, but she did not. The court further extended her stay in London on her request till May 31, but she again did not return.
This compelled the top court to initiate contempt proceedings against her and revoking of her passport. On September 12, the Centre and Uttar Pradesh had told that they have agreed that State shall initiate procedure relating to extradition and they are agreeing that Uttar Pradesh will take effect steps within three weeks.
The court directed the Centre to take appropriate steps within two weeks thereafter, for extradition with the Crown Prosecution Services and sought details of her properties in India. Earlier, the top court had asked Awasty to furnish her current address in the UK by the next date of hearing and the state had assured the court appropriate steps for extradition of the woman will be taken.
The apex court had also asked the Centre to file the income tax returns of Awasty and of her husband. On August 29, 2016, the apex court had said that it is “prima facie satisfied” that Awasty has “committed contempt of this court by breaching the directions issued by the court, as also, violating the undertaking given to this court”.
It had issued notice to Awasty to show cause why contempt proceedings be not initiated against her. The top court said that “in order to ensure, that the petitioner does not flee from justice, we consider it just and appropriate, to direct the passport authority concerned to revoke the passport issued to the petitioner forthwith”.
It had said that the Indian High Commissioner at London, shall initiate action for the return of Awasty to India, so as to face the judicial process, which is pending consideration before the apex court.
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