The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the signing and ratifying of the Extradition Treaty between the Republic of India and the Kingdom of Belgium.
- The new Extradition Treaty will replace the pre-Independence Extradition Treaty between Great Britain and Belgium of 1901 that was made applicable to India through the exchange of Letters in 1958 and is currently in force between the Republic of India and the Kingdom of Belgium.
Need for a new treaty: Due to the present procedural requirements and the fact that only a limited number of offences are listed under the pre-Independence Treaty, the same has become obsolete in today’s context.
Salient Features: The following are the salient features of the Treaty
- Obligation to Extradite: Each Party agrees to extradite to the other any person found in its territory, who is accused or convicted of an extraditable offence in the territory of the other Party.
- Enforcement: After ratification, the Treaty will enter into force from the date of exchange of instruments of ratification between India and Belgium.
- Extraditable Offences: An extraditable offence means an offence punishable under the laws of both the Parties with imprisonment for a period of one year or more severe punishment.
- Where extradition is sought in respect of a convicted person, the duration of the sentence remaining to be served must be at least six months at the time of making the request.
- Offences of a fiscal character(taxation,revenue) also fall within the scope of this Treaty.
- Mandatory grounds for Refusal: Under the Treaty, extradition shall be refused if
- The offence involved is a political offence.
- The offence for which extradition is requested is a military offence.
- The request for prosecution has been made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person on account of his race, sex, religion, nationality or political opinion etc.
- Extradition of National: Extradition of nationals is discretionary. The nationality will be determined at the time the offence was committed.
- Provides a legal framework: The Treaty would provide a legal framework for seeking extradition of terrorists, economic offenders, and other criminals from and to Belgium.
The Supreme Court of India defines - 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.
When Extradition procedure can be initiated
- 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.
Legal basis for Extradition in India
- The Extradition Act, 1962: It provides a legislative basis for extradition in India as it led to the consolidation of the law relating to the extradition of criminal fugitives from India to foreign states. The Indian Extradition Act, 1962 was substantially modified in 1993.
- Nodal authority for Extradition in India: Consular, Passport and Visa(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.
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