Suspected bookie Sanjeev Chawla could face real risk in Tihar if extradited, say UK judges
Britain’s high court said on Friday it sees a “real risk” if suspected cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla is extradited and held at Tihar Jail in Delhi as it sought further sovereign assurances from India that his human rights would not be affected.
Judges George Leggatt and James Dingemans of the Royal Courts of Justice stayed India’s appeal against the October 2017 judgment of the Westminster Magistrates Court, which turned down the extradition request for Chawla so that he could be put on trial for his alleged role in match-fixing during South Africa’s tour of India in 2000.
The judges gave the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is acting on India’s behalf, 42 days to provide further sovereign assurances so that Chawla’s rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, are not breached.
The court said: “Such an assurance will need to: address the personal space available to Mr Chawla in Tihar prisons; the toilet facilities available to him; identify the ways in which Mr Chawla will be kept free from the risk of intra-prisoner violence in the High Security wards; and repeat the guarantee of medical treatment for Mr Chawla.”
A CPS spokesperson said: “The high court has stayed the appeal of Sanjeev Chawla against extradition proceedings back to India. The CPS acknowledges the decision of the high court and we will be seeking assurances from Indian authorities to ensure that the individual can be returned to face criminal proceedings.”
India’s case has been that the judge in the Westminster Magistrates Court had erred in not taking into consideration the second sovereign assurance submitted by the home ministry regarding conditions at Tihar Jail before arriving at its judgement.
Mark Summers, representing India, had contended in the appeal hearing on April 24 that there is no evidence to support the district judge’s finding of a risk of Chawla facing human rights violations, if he is extradited. One of the factors the judge based the ruling on was testimony by prisons expert Alan Mitchell.
Friday’s ruling said: “Mr Summers submitted that the expert evidence from Dr Mitchell did not assist because Dr Mitchell had not visited Tihar prison. It was suggested that the concerns referred to by the district judge were based on unreliable complaints reported in newspapers.”
The ruling added, “We do not accept this characterisation of the expert evidence from Dr Mitchell or the evidence before the district judge.”
According to judges Leggatt and Dingemans, “if matters remain as they are the appeal will be dismissed”, but it will be possible to meet the real risk of Article 3 treatment by offering a suitable assurance that Chawla will be kept in “Article 3 compliant conditions in Tihar prison before, during trial and, in the event of conviction and sentence of imprisonment, after trial”.
They gave India 42 days to submit further assurances.
In 1996, Delhi-born Chawla moved to the UK on a business visa and he was based there while making trips back to India. After his Indian passport was revoked in [ ]2000, he obtained a UK passport in 2005 and is now a British citizen.