New Delhi: India and Britain, after a day long deliberations, moved a step closer to smoothen the extradition process in the treaty inked in 1992.
The Indian side was led by home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, while the UK delegation was led by Patsy Wilkinson, second permanent secretary in the British Home Office.
India so far has been able to extradite only one person in the last 25 years; the matter has gained urgency in the context of India seeking the extradition of business tycoon Vijay Mallya.
However, the home ministry said that the two countries did not discuss India’s request for Mallya as the matter is subjudice in the UK. The British courts will next hear the case on 17 May.
“The wide issue of clearing up bottlenecks in the extradition treaty has been discussed. While the laws of extradition are clear, there are other issues between India and UK which need to be worked upon. For example India has the death penalty while UK does not, in addition to which the issue of prison facilities was also brought up. These need to be addressed in due course," Ashok Prasad, senior security advisor in the Union ministry of home affairs said.
While India is currently pushing for the extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines’ boss Vijay Mallya, who was arrested and presented before the Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Westminster on 18 April, the home ministry clarified it was “a matter of judicial enquiry and decision-making and not an executive one."
Only one person—Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel in 2012—has been extradited by the UK since the signing of the treaty in 1992, in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots. The MHA said the “extradition process was a time-consuming process and the individual and the country had to be given time to act upon the matter."
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“The meeting between the two home secretaries was a follow up of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to India in November 2016 and the commitment of the two Prime Ministers for enhanced and strengthened dialogue," Prasad added.
The British high commission in Delhi declined comment.
The dialogue between the two countries took place just two days after the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate sent their teams to the UK to expedite Mallya’s extradition process.
Though the extradition treaty was the centre of discussion, the MHA added that other matters of importance had also been put on the table.
“Both countries agreed to address the challenges of illegal migrants. We will work together to ensure smooth return of Indians overstaying in the UK subject to nationality verification. Regarding criminal data sharing and strengthening cooperation in tackling serious and organised crimes, both sides have agreed to strengthen further the bilateral cooperation and work towards formalizing the arrangements," the same home ministry official said.
The home ministry added that the issue faced by Indian students and workforce with regard to British visas was a matter of concern that had also been discussed with the UK delegation.
“India has raised the issue of visa-related difficulties faced by Indian students, skilled professional and dependents of Indian diplomats. UK side assured that this would be looked into. The UK side mentioned that it has been their constant endeavour to improve the visa process to promote people to people exchanges that exist between the two countries," the home ministry said.
Both sides emphasised cooperation on anti-terrorism mechanism and to strengthen mutual support to check cyber crimes. Both sides agreed to formalise these arrangements, the home ministry added.
Senior Indian and British home ministry officials met in New Delhi on Thursday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the existing extradition treaty between the two countries—a move aimed at clearing “bottlenecks" that have seen only one extradition to India in the last 25 years.