As defined by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, ‘Extradition is the delivery on the part of one State to another of those whom it is desired to deal with for crimes of which they have been accused or convicted and are justifiable in the Courts of the other State’. An Extradition request for an accused can be initiated in the case of under-investigation, under-trial and convicted criminals. In cases under investigation, abundant precautions have to be exercised by the law enforcement agency to ensure that it is in possession of prima facie evidence to sustain the allegation before the Courts of Law in the Foreign State.
The Extradition Act 1962 provides India’s legislative basis for extradition. To consolidate and amend the law relating to the extradition of fugitive criminals and to provide for matters connected therewith, or incidental thereto, the Extradition Act of 1962 was enacted. It consolidated the law relating to the extradition of criminal fugitive from India to foreign states. The Indian Extradition Act, 1962 was substantially modified in 1993 by Act 66 of 1993.
Section 2(d) of Extradition Act 1962 defines an ‘Extradition Treaty’ as a Treaty, Agreement or Arrangement made by India with a Foreign State, relating to the Extradition of fugitive criminals and includes any treaty, agreement or arrangement relating to the Extradition of fugitive criminals made before the 15th day of August 1947, which extends to and is binding on, India. Extradition treaties are traditionally bilateral in character. Yet most of them seem to embody at least five principles, as endorsed by many judicial pronouncements and state practice in respect of domestic extradition legislation
CPV Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India is the Central/Nodal Authority that administers the Extradition Act and it processes incoming and outgoing Extradition Requests.
Requests for extradition on behalf of the Republic of India can only be made by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, which formally submits the request for Extradition to the requested State through diplomatic channels. Extradition is not available at the request of members of the public.
India is able to make an extradition request to any country. India’s treaty partners have obligations to consider India’s requests. In the absence of a treaty, it is a matter for the foreign country, in accordance with its domestic laws and procedures, to determine whether the country can agree to India’s extradition request on the basis of assurance of reciprocity. Similarly, any country can make an extradition request to India. Extradition is possible from the non-Treaty States as Section 3(4) of the Indian Extradition Act, 1962 provides for the process of extradition with non-Treaty foreign States.
In case of urgency, India may request the provisional arrest of the fugitive, pending presentation of an extradition request. A provisional arrest request may be appropriate when it is believed that the fugitive may flee the jurisdiction.
A request for provisional arrest may be transmitted through diplomatic channels through CPV Division of Ministry of External Affairs. The facilities of International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO- INTERPOL) may also be used to transmit such a request through National Central Bureau of India, CBI, New Delhi.
Each extradition treaty specifies the documents required for a provisional arrest request and specify the means by which a provisional arrest request must be made. The Police/Law Enforcement Agency concerned in India, prepares the request for a provisional arrest and sends it to the MEA, which in turn forwards the same to the concerned authority of the foreign country through diplomatic channels.
Generally, the following documents must be included in a provisional arrest request to be sent to a foreign country:
No. India does not need a treaty to make a provisional arrest request to a foreign country. India can make a provisional arrest request to any country. India’s treaty partners have obligations to consider India’s requests. In the absence of a treaty, it is a matter for the foreign country in accordance with its domestic laws to determine whether to arrest the person according to India’s provisional arrest request.
India can accept a provisional arrest request from any foreign State. On receipt of an urgent request from a foreign State for the immediate arrest of a fugitive criminal, the Central Government may request the Magistrate having competent jurisdiction to issue a provisional warrant for the arrest of such fugitive criminal. Section 34B of the Extradition Act provides for Provisional arrest. Before issuing a warrant for the arrest of a person, a magistrate must be satisfied that:
The extradition arrest warrant issued by the magistrate is executed by the concerned Indian Police agency.
After the person is arrested, he is brought before a magistrate and remanded in custody or released on bail if there are special circumstances that justify the grant of bail. The foreign country which made the provisional arrest request has a limited time to make a formal extradition request to India, which is, usually 45 or 60 days from the day on which the person was arrested.
The exact time frame finds mention in the relevant extradition treaty. For non-treaty States, it is 60 days as per Section 34B(2) of the Indian Extradition Act. If an extradition request is not received within that time, the person can apply to a magistrate to be released from custody. However, the fact that the person has been released from custody shall not prejudice the subsequent re-arrest and extradition of that person, if the extradition request and supporting documents are received at a later date.
It is evident that Section 34 Sub-section (1) is an urgency provision for the purpose of putting a fugitive criminal under provisional arrest, pending receipt of a request for his surrender or return, so that he does not flee in the meanwhile. The mandatory stipulation of discharge of the person detained upon the expiry of 60 days from the date of his arrest is a safeguard against keeping the liberty of a person in suspended animation for an indefinite period without any accusation or complaint etc.
It is clear that the Section does not postulate that a request for surrender or return of a fugitive criminal has to be only after fugitive's provisional arrest. In other words, provisional arrest of a fugitive under Sub-section (1) is not a condition precedent for a request for his surrender to the requesting country.
It is equally not mandatory that a request for immediate arrest under Sub-section (1) must precede a requisition for surrender of a fugitive criminal either under Chapter II, which lays down the procedure for extradition of fugitive criminals to foreign State, with which there is no extradition arrangements or Chapter III of the Act, which sets out the procedure for return of fugitives to foreign States with extradition arrangements.
Extradition is triggered by a request submitted through diplomatic channels by a foreign country. In India, it proceeds through Ministry of External Affairs and may be presented to an Extradition magistrate to order to determine whether the request is in compliance with an applicable treaty, whether it provides sufficient evidence to believe that the fugitive committed the identified offense(s), and whether other treaty requirements have been met. If so, the magistrate certifies the case for extradition at the discretion of the External Affairs Minister. Except as provided by treaty, the magistrate does not inquire into the nature of foreign proceedings likely to follow extradition.
Extradition cases are decided on the basis of the conduct alleged against the defendant. Reasonable grounds for suspicion have to be established for which prima facie determination of committal of an offence is made. The court deciding on extradition is not supposed to conduct a mini-trial to decide whether the allegations are justified. That is the mandate of the trial court in the requesting country.
An alleged offender may not be extradited to the requesting state in the following cases:
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 decision of the Extradition Magistrate is submitted to the Government of India, which finally decides if an alleged offender shall be extradited. The decision of the Government of India can be appealed against in a higher court.
Where it appears to any magistrate that a person within the local limits of his jurisdiction is a fugitive criminal of a foreign State he may, if he thinks fit, issue a warrant for the arrest of that person on such information and on such evidence as would, in his opinion, justify the issue of a warrant if the offence of which the person is accused or has been convicted had been committed within the local limits of his jurisdiction.
The magistrate shall forthwith report the issue of a warrant to the Central Government and shall forward the information and the evidence or certified copies thereof to that Government.
A person arrested on a warrant issued shall not be detained for more than three months unless within that period the magistrate receives from the Central Government an order made with reference to such person under Section 5.
The extradition procedure of a fugitive offender under Chapter II of the Act is rigorous with all the safeguards built into it. The Extradition Magistrate may expend considerable effort on proof of guilt before a fugitive criminal is surrendered. He has to be satisfied by evidence that there is a prima facie case against the offender.
The return of a fugitive criminal under Chapter III is extremely informal and swift. One of the main differences lies in the matter of proof of guilt. The need for prima facie evidence having been dispensed with, all that is required is, the satisfaction of the Extradition Magistrate about the authenticity of the endorsed warrant and as to the offence charged being an extradition offence. Chapter III of the Act does not speak of inquiry in any other aspect of the issue. So there is a substantial and material difference in the procedures of surrendering a fugitive criminal prescribed by the two chapters namely II and III of the Extradition Act.
India adheres to the principle of extraditing its own nationals. The memorandum on "Extradition” submitted by the Government of India to the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee at its Third Session (Colombo, 1960), leaves no doubt on this matter. However, in practice, India follows dual system, by extraditing nationals on the basis of reciprocity. If the other treaty State does not extradite, India also bars extradition of own nationals. The following table lists the countries to which extradition of Indian Nationals is barred by the bilateral Extradition Treaty.