Often times, people ask themselves,” What happens if a person commits a crime in one country and flees to another country?”One may even think to themselves. ”Let me just rob a bank, leave the country, and live a happy life. I will be free as long as I flee in time. ”Truth is, it is just a matter of time before such a person gets caught. This is due to the concept of extradition.
Extradition between countries is governed by treaties. This is because, in International law, no country is obliged to hand over a criminal to another country. The reason being the sovereignty of a country, each country has authority over the people within its borders hence the formation of extradition treaties. A lot of countries have penal code provisions that allow extradition in case there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.
Extradition of a fugitive from India to another country or from another country to India is governed by the provisions in the Extradition Act 1962. Extradition is done only in more serious and big offenses. For example, the extradition treaty between India and the United States of America asserts that extradition can only take place in crimes that are punishable by more than one year of imprisonment. The Principle of Dual Criminality is the most important in Extradition law. It attributes that for extradition to take place, the crime committed must be an offense in countries, the requesting and the requested. Another principle governing the Extradition law is the Principle of Proportionality between the crime and the sentence. The sentence should not be excessively harsh or inhuman as this may result in the decline of extradition. Moreso, the rule of specialty must be considered. The fugitive has to be tried only for the crime he or she extradited for and not any other crime.
There is an ongoing case of Vijay Mallya, an Indian businessman and former Member of Parliament. He is also a former owner of Kingfisher Airlines and former co-founder of Force India One Team, among other businesses he was and is involved in. Mallya is being accused of money laundering and misappropriation. In 2016 he ‘fled’ to the United Kingdom, leaving a debt of approximately Rs 9000 crores. On 18 April 2018, he was arrested by Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom as he faced accusations of fraud. Since then he has been in and out of prison as the Indian government requested for his extradition from the United Kingdom. He appealed against the extradition in London’s High Court and his plea was rejected.
At hand, his extradition has been withheld as there is a legal issue that needs to be resolved. According to United Kingdom Law, extradition cannot commence before the issue is resolved. Once the issue has been resolved, Mallya will be extradited to India by Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate. The case has been ongoing for almost three years now and all the necessary processes, principles and rules are being followed hence the delay. This delay shows that extradition involves two countries with different jurisdictions and if there is a misunderstood legal issue in either of the countries, extradition can be put to hold.
Another example of extradition is the case of Nirav Modi, an Indian jeweler who has been in prison in the United Kingdom since March last year. He is being charged with fraud and money laundering of approximately $2 billion from Punjab National Bank to which the government of India requested for his extradition. He has made bail attempts which were all denied as he was thought to flee. Another extradition request was made in February this year where he is accused of interfering with the investigation by destroying evidence and threatening witnesses hence resulting in him facing two offenses. Nirav is still in prison and awaits either confirmation or rejection of his extradition by the United Kingdom.
The above cases are similar in the sense that men are businessmen, they are Indian nationalities, they have been requested for extradition by the Indian government and their cases involve fraud and money laundering. In both cases, the Indian government sent a video showing Mumbai’s Author Road Jail where the fugitive is to be held if they are to be extradited. The video showed all the necessary precautions taken to prevent the coronavirus and any harm that can endanger the lives of Mallya and Modi. This proves that Human Rights are being greatly considered in the extradition process. Looking at how much time has been taken for the confirmation of the extraditions, it is evident that the Indian jurisdiction underestimated the process. The British lawyers are seemingly giving them a hard time as they sharply criticized the state of the papers, the numbering, and indexing in particular. Using these cases and the concept of extradition, one can assert that extradition is playing a great role in international cooperation to suppress crime as it promotes countries to stand in solidarity in fighting crime.
Author: Moyo Sindisiwe Londiwe