India gets UK court nod for appeal to extradite Chawla
Upholding concerns about conditions in Delhi’s Tihar Jail and alleged lack of systems to prevent torture in India, judge Rebecca Crane had turned down the extradition request on October 16.world Updated: Jan 14, 2018 10:30 IST
India’s appeal against a UK court ruling that rejected the extradition request of a suspected cricket bookie will be heard by a higher court.
Britain’s judicial authorities have granted the Crown Prosecution Service, acting on behalf of India, leave to appeal against the October 2017 ruling that rejected the extradition of Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, who is wanted for his role in fixing during South Africa’s cricket tour of India in 2000.
A date to hear the appeal in a higher court is expected to announced shortly.
The extradition request for Chawla was rejected by judge Rebecca Crane of the Westminster Magistrates Court on October 16 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 CPS had in November filed an appeal against the ruling on the ground that the judge did not take into account assurances on Tihar jail conditions submitted by the Union ministry of home affairs, and had ‘erred’ while pronouncing the judgement.
Had she considered the documents, the decision to reject Chawla’s extradition would have been different, it was stated in the appeal.
Granting the leave to appeal has been welcomed in the context of Indian ministers and officials adopting a pro-active approach to extradition and related cases in recent years, particularly in connection with the case of controversial businessman Vijay Mallya.
The most recent intervention was by Kiren Rijiju, minister of state for home, who met British counterparts this week, on India seeking 14 individuals for alleged crimes and financial irregularities in India, including Tiger Hanif, wanted for two blasts in Gujarat in 1993.
Chawla’s extradition was turned down solely due to the concern that he would be “subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the Tihar prison complex”.
The judge rejected his other three issues of passage of time, human rights and right to family life.
Key to the judge reaching the conclusion was the deposition of prisons expert Alan Mitchell, who has also deposed in Mallya’s case. Crane rejected India’s contention that Mitchell was not suitably qualified, and noted that he was refused permission to visit Tihar.
The judge said in the Chawla case: “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,” the judge said.
According to court records, Chawla was born in Delhi and lived in India until 1996, when he moved to the United Kingdom on a business visa. His Indian passport was revoked in 2000. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 2003, and obtained a UK passport in 2005.