UK court allows cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla’s extradition to India
In a legal victory for India, the high court had ruled that conditions in the Tihar Jail in Delhi did not pose any “real risk” to Chawla’s human rights, which was the only ground on which the magistrates court had blocked his extradition in October 2017Updated: Jan 07, 2019 21:57 IST
The Westminster magistrates court on Monday recommended to the home secretary that no bars exist to cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla’s extradition to India following the November 2018 judgement of the high court, revising its October 2017 ruling that had blocked his extradition.
It was the second legal victory for India in British courts within a month. On December 10, the same magistrates court had ordered that controversial businessman Vijay Mallya be extradited to India to face charges of alleged financial offences running into thousands of crores.
In Chawla’s case, the high court had ruled on November 16 that conditions in the Tihar Jail in Delhi did not pose any “real risk” to Chawla’s human rights, which was the only ground on which Judge Rebecca Crane had blocked his extradition in October 2017.
Crane said on Monday: “There is nothing for me to decide. The case can now be sent to the home secretary”. She told Chawla that he will continue to remain on bail, and if he breached bail conditions, he would be arrested and brought to court.
Home secretary Sajid Javid now has two months to take the final decision on Chawla’s extradition. Chawla will have the opportunity to apply for leave to appeal in the high court within 14 days of Javid’s decision.
By ruling that Chawla faced “no real risk” in the Tihar Jail, the high court had removed the only bar to his extradition to face charges of match-fixing during South Africa’s tour of India in 2000.
In her October 2017 judgement, Crane said she was otherwise satisfied that there is a prima facie case for him to answer on the basis of evidence gathered by the Delhi police.
She had dismissed his objections to extradition on the ground of ‘passage of time’ (over 15 years having elapsed since the alleged crime in India) and ‘right to family life’ (he has been living in the UK with his family since 1996 with wife and two sons).
Crane had said that she was “satisfied that there is a prima facie case…The affidavit of Bhisham Singh, the deputy commissioner of police, dated 18.05.15 also contains a very detailed summary of the evidence”.
The affidavit includes the background of the events leading to the expose of match-fixing, details of phone conversations, investigation and analysis of call details, investigation of the venues where the teams stayed, details of evidence provided by South Africa and the UK, summary of the role played by each accused and evidence against them, and forensic analysis of the voices of recorded conversations.
“There is clear evidence sufficient to make a case requiring an answer that the RP (requested person) acted with others to fix the outcome of cricket matches by providing money to members of the South African cricket team”, Crane ruled.
Sanjeev Chawla extradition case timeline:
•India submits extradition request on February 1, 2016
•Home secretary certifies request on March 11, 2016
•Warrant for his arrest issued on May 17, 2016
•Chawla arrested on June 14, 2016; bailed
•Extradition hearings in the Westminster Magistrates Court in 2016, 2017.
•District judge Rebecca Crane blocks extradition on ground of risk to Chawla’s human rights in the Tihar Jail; October 16, 2017
•India appeals in the high court; another sovereign assurance on Tihar jail conditions sought on May 4, 2018
•India submits assurance on July 11, 2018
•High court quashes the order of October 16, 2017, and remits the case to the district judge.
•Crane clears Chawla’s extradition on January 7, 2019, sends file to the home secretary.
First Published: Jan 07, 2019 16:34 IST