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Britain refuses to comment on Sushma’s remarks about UK courts questioning condition of Indian jails

Britain has refused to respond to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s remarks that PM Modi had expressed irritation at UK courts questioning the condition of Indian jails in extradition hearings.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2018 18:22 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Britain,Sushma Swaraj,UK court
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj quoted PM Modi as saying to British PM Theresa May that UK courts should not question about the condition of Indian jails where they kept Gandhi and Nehru.(HT/Mohd Zakir)

Britain has refused to respond to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s remarks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed irritation at British courts questioning the condition of Indian jails in extradition hearings, during his visit to London in April.

Poor conditions in Indian jails are a key objection raised by fugitives whose extradition is sought by India, including businessman Vijay Mallya. Several judgements of Indian courts and campaign groups have been cited to support their claim that there is a real risk tohuman rights if extradited.

At a news briefing on Tuesday, Swaraj reportedly quoted Modi as saying to Prime Minister Theresa May during his visit for the Commonwealth summit: “I need to say that these are the same jails where you had kept Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and India’s big leaders. So, it’s not right for your courts to raise questions about those jails.”

Asked to comment on the interaction between the two prime ministers, a Downing Street spokesperson wrote to Hindustan Times: “We have nothing to add to the readoutof the PM’s (May) talks with PM Modi.”

Extradition is a judicial process and British courts have an obligation under the European Convention of Human Rightsto ensure that the human rights of the person sought are not breached after extradition to India.

Soon after meeting Modi on April 18, May responded to a query in the House of Commons about the extradition of one Aman Vyas from India, wanted by Londonin connection with a murder in 2009.

May said: “There are a number of issues regarding extradition between UK and India. We raised a number of cases with the Indian government. It is important that we recognise the independence of the judiciary in both countries.”

The readout issued by Downing Street after the meeting on April 18 did not explicitly mention extraditions, but officials accompanying Modi had confirmed the issue had figured in the talks with May.

The readout said:“They (Modi and May) also discussed cooperation between the two countries on legal matters. PM May welcomed the return of the Chennai Six to the UK.”

The Chennai Six was a reference to six British sailors who were arrested from an anti-piracy ship in Indian waters in 2013, jailed in Chennai, and released in November 2017. Their alleged harrowing experience in jail was raised by Mallya’s legal team in his extradition trial at the Westminster magistrates court.

The most recent extradition refused by British courts on the ground of alleged inhuman conditions in Indian jails is of suspected cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla, who, the Indian side has submitted in court, will be held at Tihar Jail in Delhi.

India appealed against the refusal through the Crown Prosecution Service in the high court, which has given it 42 days from May 4 to submit further sovereign assurances that Chawla’s human rights will not be violated if he is extradited and held in Tihar Jail.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 18:22 IST