India urges UK to extradite 16 including Vijay Mallya


NEW DELHI: India has urged Britain to speed up the process of extraditing 16 of its nationals including industrialist Vijay Mallya so that they can stand trial in the country.

Officials of the two countries met in Delhi on Monday and Tuesday to discuss measures to avoid delays in processing requests for extradition, many of which have been pending for years, people familiar with the matter told ET.

A delegation comprising diplomats and representatives of the Crown Prosecution Service of the UK met officials of India’s external affairs ministry, home ministry and investigative agencies to hold the Indo-UK dialogue on extradition and mutual legal assistance.

The British government officials briefed their counterparts in India about the “legal procedure and requirements” in the UK regarding extradition of fugitives wanted by other nations. The people cited earlier said that the UK needs to demonstrate political will to extradite fugitives as it cannot be viewed as the world capital that gives refuge to law breakers including terrorists, money launderers and high-profile international criminals.

India and the UK have an extradition treaty that dates back to 1993, but the treaty has not helped India much to get its fugitives extradited from the UK. The first fugitive to be extradited from the UK to India was Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, who was brought back in October 2016 to stand trial for his alleged role in 2002 riots in Gujarat.

The list of fugitives given by India to Britain includes Ravi Shankaran (accused in the Indian Navy war room leak case), Tiger Hanif (wanted in connection with two bomb attacks in Gujarat in 1993), Nadeem Saifi (wanted in Gulshan Kumar murder case) and members of the ‘Khalistan’ movement.

Hanif has lost his case in the UK courts, but he may get reprieve from the European Union courts. India has also been seeking extradition of British national Raymond Varley, accused in child abuse cases in Goa. Indian authorities rue that UK’s legal system allows fugitives or terrorists to resist or delay their return to India.

In contrast, more than 60 terrorists and other fugitives were extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates, USA, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Oman, Peru, Mauritius, Morocco, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Bulgaria, South Africa, Australia, Tanzania and Portugal between February 2002 and December 2015.

Three British citizens were extradited to India in 2004 and 2005, albeit from USA, Tanzania and Bulgaria. India, on its part, extradited Maninderpal Singh Kohli to Britain in 2008 in the Hannah Foster murder case.

On February 9, the Narendra Modi government formally requested Britain to extradite liquor baron Mallya to India so that he can be made to stand trial for loan default and money laundering.

The move came just about a fortnight after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a charge-sheet against Mallya in a court in Mumbai, accusing him of committing fraud and hatching a criminal conspiracy to secure a loan of more than Rs 950 crore from the IDBI Bank for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

Mallya is also being probed for defaulting on loans of more than Rs 9,400 crore. He left the country after a consortium of 13 banks, which had given the loan to his company, moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal to step up pressure on him to return the money.