India appeals against UK court’s rejection of bookie Chawla’s extradition

The extradition request for Sanjeev Chawla was rejected by the UK judge on the ground that he would be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

world Updated: Nov 08, 2017 09:17 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
India-UK ties,extradition request,Sanjeev Kumar Chawla
File photo of the British high court.(Reuters)

India has appealed in Britain'shigh court against amagistrate’s recent decision to reject New Delhi’s request to extradite Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, wanted for his role in fixing cricket matches during South Africa’s tour of India in 2000.

The extradition request for Chawla was rejected by judge Rebecca Crane of the Westminster Magistrates Court on the ground that he would be “subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the Tihar prison complex” in New Delhi.

The appeal filed last week in the high court by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting on behalf of the Indian government, says the judge did not take into account important documents from the home ministry submitted in relation to conditions in Tihar Jail.

A CPS spokesperson told Hindustan Times: “The CPS has applied for leave to appeal the discharge.”

The appeal stated that the judged “erred” in not considering the material and had she done so, the decision would have been different. The high court has not yet set a date for hearing the appeal.

Crane, however, agreed in her detailed judgement, now available, that there is a prima facie case against Chawla, based on evidence submitted by India. In particular, she mentioned “the very detailed summary of the evidence” by deputy commissioner of police Bhisham Singh.

Chawla’s counsel submitted several newspaper clippings and reports by human rights organisations and othersabout alleged custodial deaths, torture, poor medical facilities, overcrowding and inhuman treatment in Tihar Jail.

Evidence on Indian prison conditions was given in the case by Alan Mitchell, who held several positions in jails in Scotland during his career. The judge rejected India’s contention that Mitchell was not suitably qualified, and noted that he was refused permission to visit Tihar.

The judge said: "I am not satisfied that there is an effective system of protection against torture in the receiving state. Whilst the Supreme Court of India has raised concerns about prison conditions in a number of decisions, the court has found that little has changed in practice and overcrowding remains a problem.

“The evidence from the NGO reports, Home Office report and US report is that the monitoring systems which exist in India are not effective in practice. There is no international independent monitoring of the prisons.”

Chawla raised four issues to challenge theextradition request - passage of time, human rights, prison conditions and the right to family life. The judge ruled that except for prison conditions, none of the bars apply in his case.

According to court records, Chawla was born in Delhi and lived in India until 1996, when he moved to the UK on a business visa. He has lived here since then. After his Indian passport was revoked in 2000, he was granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain in 2003, and obtained a UK passport in 2005.

First Published: Nov 08, 2017 09:17 IST