A recent judgment by a British court is likely to be a cause for concern for the CBI, which is seeking extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya in the same court. The court, in a recent judgement, ruled out extradition of a suspect to India on the ground that the conditions in which he would be kept inside Tihar jail would violate his human rights. The court held this despite being convinced of the case against the accused.
The court rejected another extradition request on the ground that too much time has lapsed.
Sources said judges at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London ruled in favour of UK-based alleged bookie Sanjeev Kumar Chawla on October 16 and discharged a fraud case against British Indian couple Jatinder and Asha Rani Angurala on October 12.
Coming weeks before the court is to hear the case against Mallya on November 20, the development is significant. Mallya is accused of wilfully defaulting on bank loans to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore and diverting the same. Were he to be brought back, he is likely to be lodged in Tihar jail.
Chawla is a key accused in the cricket match-fixing scandal involving former South African captain Hanse Cronje in 2000. He was discharged by District Judge Rebecca Crane on human rights grounds over severe conditions in Tihar Jail where he would be lodged after being extradited.
The judge said she was satisfied there was a prima facie case against Chawla.
However, on hearing expert evidence from Dr Alan Mitchell, a licensed medical practitioner, she ruled in favour of Chawla on the grounds that his human rights would be violated in Tihar jail under Section 87, Article 3 relating to “prohibition of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment”.
“[There are] strong grounds for believing that the RP [Requested Person: Chawla] would be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the Tihar prison complex, due to the overcrowding, lack of medical provision, risk of being subjected to torture and violence either from other inmates or prison staff which is endemic in Tihar,” she noted in her judgment.
In the case of the Anguralas, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot — also presiding over the Mallya case — ruled that it would be unjust to extradite them after nearly a quarter of a century since the fraud was alleged to have taken place when Jatinder was a branch manager at the Bank of India in Jalandhar. The Anguralas were wanted for fraud dating back to between 1990 and 1993 against the bank, causing a loss of about 24,000 pounds.