UK court approves fugitive Sanjay Bhandari’s extradition

Mallya’s extradition was cleared by the UK high court in April 2020 but has since been held up because he has applied for asylum…reports Asian Lite News

In a third such high-profile extradition win for India in UK – after Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi –  a London court has ordered the extradition of fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari to India, media reported.

“As I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant’s Convention rights, I must send this case to the Secretary of State [Suella Braverman] for a decision as to whether the defendant is to be extradited,” district judge Michael Snow at the Westminster’s Magistrates’ Court in London said, while ordering Bhandari’s extradition and sending the reference to the home secretary.

“However, I only do so on the basis of the assurances that have been provided by the (Indian) government,” the judge said. The Indian government assured the court that Bhandari will be held in a separate cell at Tihar Jail in New Delhi with adequate access to health care while he faces trial in India, the Hindustan Times reported.

However, Bhandari has the option to challenge this decision in the UK high court, which will pave the way for long delay in the extradition like in the case of Mallya and Modi.

Mallya’s extradition was cleared by the UK high court in April 2020 but has since been held up because he has applied for asylum. A Westminster court ordered Modi’s extradition in February 2021, which he has challenged in the UK high court.

During the proceedings against Bhandari, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the UK, which has successfully argued India’s cases, stated that the businessman’s conduct amounts to “fraud by false representation” in British jurisdiction. The charges were described by Bhandari’s legal team as “political witch-hunt” and “baseless”.

Bhandari, 60, is under investigation by multiple agencies , including the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income Tax department and Delhi Police for money laundering , violation of the foreign exchange act , the black money act, and the official secrets act for having access to sensitive defence documents, the HT reported.

Bhandari fled to the UK via Nepal in December 2016.

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