Success of sorts
As India secures the extradition of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Agustawestland chopper deal, its efforts to bring back other fugitives from abroad come under scrutiny.
INDIA registered twin successes on the question of extradition of fugitives from other countries recently. While it secured the extradition of Christian Michel, a British national and the alleged middleman in the Agustawestland chopper deal, from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a U.K. court, after year-long proceedings, found Vijay Mallya extraditable to India. Both the successes are, however, riddled with uncertainties. While it is not at all certain whether India has adequate proof to justify Michel’s extradition and continued detention in India, Mallya is sure to avail himself of legal remedies to appeal against the U.K. lower court’s order of extradition in order to delay his deportation to India.
The logic of extradition of an alleged criminal from one country to another is simple: the trial for a crime, if held in the vicinity of the crime, enables easy collection of evidence, and if it leads to successful conviction and sentencing, it will send a strong message that a crime will not go unpunished merely for jurisdictional reasons.
The law of extradition, however, transcends its immediate logic. It seeks to harmonise crime control with the protection of human rights of the fugitives, guaranteeing due process to the latter. Thus, compliance with the procedure established by law, before the surrender of the fugitive from one country to another, is an imperative. This includes a judicial inquiry by a magistrate, followed by a formal decision by the government.
In India, the extradition of a fugitive from India to a foreign country or vice versa is governed by the Extradition Act, 1962. An extradition treaty between two countries specifies the conditions to be satisfied for extradition. A list of crimes that are extraditable is also included in the treaty. In the absence of a treaty, extradition may be permitted if it has the backing of the principle of reciprocity. A treaty is a mutually agreed text signed and ratified by two sovereign governments. An extradition arrangement is made in the absence of a treaty on the assurance of reciprocity, including those under international conventions.
According to the reply to a query of a member, furnished by the Minister of State for External Affairs, V.K. Singh, in the Rajya Sabha on March 22, India has extradition treaties with 48 countries. These include the United States, the UAE, Hong Kong (China), Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India has extradition arrangements with 10 countries, including three European countries, namely, Croatia, Italy and Sweden. Since 2014, four fugitives have been extradited to India. In the last 15 years, as per a reply furnished in the Lok Sabha on August 9, 2017, by V.K. Singh, 47 fugitive criminals have been extradited/deported from India to the countries concerned, whereas 62 fugitive criminals have been extradited/deported to India from various countries.
Section 105 of the Code of Criminal Procedure speaks of reciprocal arrangements to be made by the Central government with foreign governments with regard to the service of summons/warrants/judicial processes. Accordingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs has entered into mutual legal assistance treaties (Mlats)/agreements on criminal matters with 39 countries, which provide for serving of documents. In other cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs makes a request on the basis of an assurance of reciprocity to the foreign government concerned through the Ministry of External Affairs or the Indian mission/embassy in that country.
A country having an MLAT with India has an obligation to consider serving the documents, whereas the countries that do not have an MLAT
VIJAY MALLYA and his Kingfisher Airlines and United Breweries Holdings were tagged as wilful defaulters in 2014.