In a big boost for India’s legal efforts, the UK’s high court on Friday (16) upheld India’s appeal against a lower court’s ruling which prevented the extradition of alleged cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla to India.
The high court in its judgement ruled “there will be no real risk” to Chawla in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where he will be kept if extradited.
Chawla is most wanted for legal proceedings for his alleged role in fixing cricket matches between India and South Africa during the period between February-March 2000. The case involved India’s home ministry submitting three sovereign assurances to the British court on the conditions in which he would be kept in Tihar jail without violating the human rights.
Earlier, judge Rebecca Crane of the Westminster magistrates court in a ruling against India’s efforts to get Chawla, blocked all extradition efforts stating that there is a real risk to human rights if he lodged in Tihar jail.
India, in its appeal in the high court against the lower court’s ruling that the judgement didn’t consider Indian government’s assurance which provided more information on the guarantees to be provided to the personal safety of the accused and the facilities to be arranged for him in the prison if he extradited.
“In these circumstances, having regard to all of the information available to this court about Tihar prisons, the terms of the third assurance (which was not before the district judge) are sufficient to show that there will be no real risk that Mr Chawla will be subjected to impermissible treatment in Tihar prisons”, said justice Leggatt and justice Dingemans delivering the judgement after obtaining the third assurance from India on the facilities including personal space, medical services, bed, and others.
“Therefore, pursuant to the provisions of section 106 of the Extradition Act 2003, we quash the order discharging Mr Chawla, remit the case to the district judge, and direct the district judge to proceed as if the district judge had not ordered Mr Chawla’s discharge,” the judges said.
India in an attempt speed up Chawla’s extradition case, submitted all evidence proving Chawla’s role in match-fixing. The lower court judge was satisfied with the details submitted by the Indian authorities to prove their allegations against the accused.
Chawla’s lawyer in an attempt to block the extradition, raised four issues, passage of time, human rights, prison conditions, and right to family life. However, Judge Crane had rejected all objections raised by Chawla’s lawyer except the risk to his human rights in Tihar.