England is known in India as a country which respected rule of Law, Constitution, Democracy and right to dissent. But recently England is becoming very unpopular in India as many fugitives who have cheated Indian Banks, doing Illegal Trade, Supporting Terrorism, underworld Don’s, Child Kidnappers, criminals, fraudsters and scamsters to pro-Khalistan and Kashmiri militants, are staying there under various legal pretexts. Though India and Britain have an extradition treaty, signed in 1992, only one extradition has taken place under the arrangement that of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel.
Some of the prominent Fugitives in UK are Vijay Mallya, the 61-year-old former chief of the now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines has been in the UK since March 2016 and was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant on April 18. The airliner owes nearly Rs 9,000 crore to various Indian banks.
The second most important case is of Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who left India early this year, are wanted by authorities for allegedly duping Punjab National Bank of Rs 13,000 crore. Lalit Modi who is wanted for corruption, fraud and financial irregularities. Tiger Hanif, a known aide of Dawood Ibrahim and wanted in the Gujarat blast case of 1993.
Ravi Shankaran who is wanted in the Naval War-room espionage case in India, Nadeem Saifi, wanted for murder of music baron, Gulshan Kumar, Nadeem escaped to the UK and is now a British citizen living in the UAE. Attempts to extradite him were rejected by the British Supreme Court in 2000. Sanjeev Chawla cricket bookie scandal involving Hansie Cronje, in 2000. Rajesh Kapoor and Seema Kapoor, a couple accused of abducting a child, Paul Samuel and Kartik Venugopalan, Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Agusta- Westland VVIP helicopter deal and 2002 Gujarat riots accused Sameer Ali to name a few. Despite the Indian government’s repeated attempts to bring them back they continue to remain in the UK or outside.
Why India cant get them extradited? It is because of the difference in legal principles and procedure making it easier for fugitives. These countries want India to ensure a fair trial, no torture during interrogation, humane prison conditions and no death sentence. These are challenges India has to go through.
Not only in England but also Indian Fugitives are spread throughout the world. The most important among them are the main accused in the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the CEO of Union Carbide, Warren M Anderson managed to flee India after the mayhem. The government of India sought his extradition from the US, but all efforts were futile as in 2014, he breathed his last in the US. David Coleman Headley is an American terrorist of Pakistani origin and a spy who conspired in plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He is currently in jail in the United States of America.
The prime accused in the Bofors scandal during former PM Rajiv Gandhi era too went in vain. The Dawood Ibrahim the prime accused in the series of bomb blasts in 1993 in Mumbai. The intelligence sources say he lives in Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi, but India, till date, hasn’t been able to extradite him. Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind behind the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai are moving freely in Pakistan.
Of the 121 fugitives, India wants to be extradited, 70 per cent have taken shelter in four countries. The preferred destinations for fugitive Indians have been identified as the United States, United Arab Emirates, Canada and the United Kingdom.
At last, one can say that in India the extradition of a fugitive from India to a foreign country or vice-versa is governed by the provisions of Indian Extradition Act, 1962. India which is a developing country is on the process of development. Globalization, respect for human rights and the free flow of Ideas have driven our India with more than 6% growth rate and becoming the most responsible nation in the world. If few fugitives with their covert ideas connection cheat Banks, do terrorist activities, kill innocent people, do betting’s and loot the nation are not the champions of democracies responsible for extraditing them to India? After all, you also showed the way of rule of law to us? If you are keeping our Fugitives in your Country in the name of Law is it not Wrong? Please extradite them and show your commitment to rule of law and democracy?
However, India did find success in Extraditing Abu Salem from Portugal who was convicted for the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1996 along with 50 other cases. Many more are getting extradited. Will England, US and other countries follow the suit and respect India’s democracy has to be seen. Meanwhile, The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, if it comes to force, will help the government seize properties of those involved in fraud worth more than Rs. 100 crore. For now, the run has begun for fugitives.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.