Extradition is the legal process by which a person is transferred from one country to another without the person’s consent. Here, a governmental authority formally and legally turns over an alleged criminal to another government for the person to face prosecution for a crime. It is a judicial process, unlike deportation.
Generally, a country is not obliged to hand over an alleged criminal to any other government because a sovereign power has legal authority over the people within its own borders. So, for the extradition process to take place, extradition treaties should exist between countries.
Even when there is no extradition treaty between countries, a country can request the return of a person to face prosecution for any crime.
In India, the extradition of a fugitive criminal is governed under the Indian Extradition Act, 1962. This is for both extraditing of persons to India and from India to foreign countries. The basis of the extradition could be a treaty between India and another country. India has extradition treaties with 39 countries currently.
Example, underworld don Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal to India to face charges. He, along with his wife, was extradited on the conditions that they would not be given the death penalty in India. This was so because European law prevents extradition to a country where capital punishment is in practice.
- Information about the fugitive criminals wanted in foreign countries is received from the country or through Interpol.
- The Interpol wing of the CBI then passes the information to the concerned police departments.
- The information is also passed on to the immigration authorities.
- Then, action can be taken under the 1962 act.
- Failure to fulfil dual criminality – if the act for which the criminal’s extradition is requested is not a crime in the requested state, then the state can refuse extradition.
- Political crimes – most nations refuse the extradition of political criminal suspects. This excludes terrorist offences and violent crimes.
- The possibility of certain forms of punishment – if the accused is likely to receive capital punishment or torture in the requesting state, the requested state can refuse extradition.
- Jurisdiction – jurisdiction over a crime can be invoked to refuse extradition.
- The absence of an extradition treaty.
Indian nationals who return to India after committing offences in West Asia/Gulf countries are not extradited to those countries. They are liable to be prosecuted in India in accordance with Indian Law, as bilateral treaties with these countries preclude (except Oman) extradition of own nationals.
The topic of extradition is in the news off late because of the Vijay Mallya’s fraud and money laundering case. Mallya is in the United Kingdom and has been evading prosecution in India. In December 2018, a UK court had ordered the extradition of Mallya. So, this is an important topic and students should understand what the law in India says about this. This is a part of General Studies Paper III, polity and international relations for the IAS exam.
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