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Thursday December 02, 2021

UK has extradited only one ‘wanted’ Indian in 29 years

August 07, 2021

LAHORE: Now that former three-time Pakistani Premier, Nawaz Sharif, has launched an appeal against the British Home Office decision at the Immigration Tribunal, and with none having any idea as to how events will unfold from here onwards in absence of any formal Pak-UK extradition treaty, it is imperative to look at the complexities of such time-consuming cases with reference to neighbouring India.

India had inked an extradition treaty with the UK in 1992, but has had a very bad experience with extraditing criminals from one of its most favoured business partners, where its 1.4 million diaspora makes the single largest visible ethnic minority population, research shows.

The UK-India trading relationship is already worth almost £24 billion, with 383 Indian companies in the UK employing more than 82,000 people. But despite all these impressive numbers, India has far been successful in bringing back only one criminal from the UK. Well, that was till 2016.

Remember, India’s extradition requests have been granted by more than 20 countries in the last couple of decades, which has resulted in the extradition of about 75 fugitive convicts. A peek through the archives of various Indian and British media houses like the Economic Times, the Indian Express, India Today, The Guardian, The Telegraph, the BBC and Business Standard etc reveal that only one Indian — Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel — has so far been extradited to his home country.

On October 18, 2016, Samirbhai Patel, was extradited from the UK to stand trial in India, becoming the first person to be sent back from Britain 24 years after the two countries had signed an extradition treaty.

He was arrested by Scotland Yard in west London in August on a Red Corner Notice issued by the Indian authorities. His extradition order was signed by UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Sept, 2016 and the "surrender arrangements" were finalized for his departure.

Patel was facing trial in connection with post-Godhra riots in India in 2002. He was charged with the offences ranging from being a member of an unlawful assembly; rioting and murder. He had fled to the UK after jumping bail in India.

Statement from the UK Home Office spokesperson had read: “On 22 September the Secretary of State (Amber Rudd), having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed the order for Samirbhai Patel's extradition to India. He is accused, whilst being part of a rioting mob, of three counts of murder, two counts of using unlawful violence with others for a common purpose and one count of arson.”

Patel was wanted in a case in which 23 people from the Muslim community were burnt alive in a house at Gujarat state’s Ode village on March 1, 2002. Although the extradition orders of another Indian, Nirav Modi, wanted in connection with the estimated US $2 billion Punjab National Bank scam case, were signed by UK Home Secretary on April 16, 2021, his lawyer is pleading against the verdict.

On June 23, 2021, a UK high court had rejected Modi's application to appeal against his extradition to India. On July 22, 2021, Modi’s lawyer had contended that if extradited, Nirav Modi might contract COVID at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where he would be lodged, and may even commit suicide.

Hailing from a family of diamond businessmen in Belgium, Modi was also sued in California for defrauding/robbing an American businessman of US $4.2 million.

In June 2019, the Swiss authorities had frozen his bank accounts worth $ 6 million along with other assets.

Research further shows that in January 2018, a list of the most wanted fugitives that India wanted to get extradited from the UK was handed over to Britain by Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of State for Home Affairs. The list included 14 names, including Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi (founder & first Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League), and Tiger Hanif , an alleged aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

In turn, the British government also requested the extradition of 12 Non-Resident Indians and other nationals who has allegedly committed crimes in the United Kingdom and have been residing in India, the Economic Times reported.

The list included names of Mohammad Sheikh, and a brother and sister duo — Rajesh and Seema Kapoor. The siblings had been accused of kidnapping their brother Deepak’s child and fleeing to London in December 2007.

The list of the United Kingdom also included names like Raminder Singh, Aman Vyas and Mohammad Abdul Sakur, all of whom were being wanted by Britain for committing crimes like murder and sexual assault.

As far as the extradition of eminent Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya is concerned, this is what “The Pioneer” newspaper had stated on July 22, 2021: “India's financial fraudsters find a safe haven for their loot and sanctuary for themselves in Britain as its regime skillfullybreaks international laws. Fugitive billionaire Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher Airlines fame is a glaring instance. He remains on bail in Britain until and unless UK Home Secretary Priti Patel orders his extradition to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering. Mallya has applied to Secretary Patel for considering “another route” to be able to stay in the UK. This has raised widespread speculation that Mallya plans to seek asylum in that country.”

The newspaper had added: “The UK has over the years become the most preferred tax haven destination for economic offenders like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, murder-accused Indian music director Nadeem, Sanjay Bhandari, the Rana Kapoor family, the Sandesara family, just to name a few. The Hinduja Brothers, one of India's richest families and their Hinduja Group of Companies remain the most preferred Indian family in the UK, aided and promoted by various British governments in the past. The Hindujas are right now facing major legal problems in Switzerland in connection with a charge of forging a document at a bank.”

About another noted Indian magnate, Anil Ambani, the media outlet had asserted: “The case of India’s biggest financial debtor, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group, is not much different. The entire business has collapsed and the hard-earned taxpayer’s money has scandalously evaporated into thin air. A few months ago, Ambani deposed before a UK court, in connection with a case filed by a Chinese banking consortium, that he has no money left.

The UK Court had earlier asked Ambani to pay $770 million to some Chinese banks for non-payment of loans. It is learned that after the London court's order, Anil Ambani has limited his foreign travels fearing Chinese banks might seek the help of Interpol to issue red alerts for him in foreign airports.”