India, Belgium ink pact for legal aid in criminal probes | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India, Belgium ink pact for legal aid in criminal probes

ByNeeraj Chauhan
Jun 23, 2023 01:29 AM IST

India and Belgium have signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty allowing Belgian authorities to execute search warrants issued by Indian courts and summon suspects. The move is expected to aid investigations into fugitives including Neeshal Modi, brother of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud mastermind, Nirav Modi. The Enforcement Directorate is investigating Modi's role in the PNB scam. Indian agencies will also be able to summon individuals hiding in Belgium, including several Khalistani supporters suspected of doing so by security agencies.

New Delhi: India and Belgium have signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which allows authorities in Brussels to execute any search warrant issued by a court in India, and summon a suspect being probed by Indian agencies, the Union home ministry said on Thursday.

Officials say the move will help investigators in getting evidence from fugitives like Neeshal Modi, brother of Punjab National Bank fraud mastermind Nirav Modi. (Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint)
Officials say the move will help investigators in getting evidence from fugitives like Neeshal Modi, brother of Punjab National Bank fraud mastermind Nirav Modi. (Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint)

The move, officials familiar with the development said, will help investigators in getting evidence from fugitives like Neeshal Modi, brother of Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud mastermind Nirav Modi.

“…arrangements have been made by the central government with the government of the Kingdom of Belgium for service or execution of summons or search warrant in relation to criminal matters, on any person in Kingdom of Belgium,” a notification issued by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Thursday said.

“Now, therefore, in pursuance of clause (ii) of sub-section (1) of section 105 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Central government hereby specifies that — a summons to an accused person, or a summons to any person requiring him to attend and produce a documents or other thing, or to produce it, or a search-warrant, may be issued by a court in India in duplicate to the court, judge or magistrate in the government of the Kingdom of Belgium, having authority under the law for the time being in force in that country,” it added.

The MHA said that the Federal Public Service Justice of Belgium will be the authority “to serve such summons or execute such warrant on the person or place named therein”.

It further said that the concerned court, judge or magistrate in India, while issuing summons are required to comply with the comprehensive guidelines issued by MHA. “Such summons or warrant shall be sent to the Internal Security (IS)-II division of the MHA for transmission to the competent authority, that is, the Federal Public Service Justice of Belgium,” the notification said.

The documents found during searches on any suspect in Belgium will be forwarded to India, according to the MLAT between two countries.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is probing into Neeshal Modi’s role in the PNB scam.

Besides, security agencies suspect several Khalistani supporters to be hiding in Belgium.

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