Match fixing: India allowed to appeal UK court ruling rejecting Chawla extradition

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 15, 2018

Vijay Mallya   -  REUTERS

The case will now move to the High Court in London

India has won the right to appeal the decision by a UK court to deny the extradition request for Sanjeev Chawla, wanted in relation to the South Africa-India cricket match fixing scandal.

The case will now move to the High Court in London, though the date is yet to be set, after India appealed the case on the grounds that assurances it offered on prison conditions had not been taken into account in the initial judgement.

Prima facie case

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that permission had been granted for the appeal to take place in the case, following the decision by Westminster Magistrates Court Judge Rebecca Crane to deny the request last October.

The judge said there was a prima facie case against Chawla for his “role in the fixing of cricket matches played between India and South Africa during the tour of the South African Cricket Team to India under the captainship of Hansie Cronje in February-March 2000”.

However, she concluded that there were “strong grounds” for believing that Chawla would be “subject 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,” according to the judgment, published on October 16 last year.

Sources said the appeal had been based around the way guarantees offered by India had been treated in the case.

Their late submission had led to the court disregarding them, but India appealed, suggesting that they amounted to assurances, not new evidence.

Mallya case

The hearing to extradite Vijay Mallya will continue on Monday, January 22, when the defence is expected to conclude its challenge to the admissibility of certain evidence by the prosecution, followed by the prosecution’s rebuttal.

Should those discussions conclude on Monday, the judge could be expected to set the timetable for the written closing arguments to be submitted (no oral closing arguments are expected to be made), and the verdict.

The extradition process for Mallya has been particularly speedy: it has been less than a year since India made its formal request to extradite him, on February 9, 2017.

Swift progress

During a visit to London last week, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju expressed his gratitude to UK authorities for the way matters had been handled, enabling the request’s swift progression into the court system, where it now lay.

He also expressed his optimism about the proceedings, despite efforts by the defence to challenge the admissibility of certain evidence, including the use of “template” witness statements.

“We have done all the homework,” he said at a meeting here on Friday.

Among the developments India is optimistic about is the level of details requested around prison conditions, to which India has attempted to offer assurances, including through a guarantee that Mallya would have access to private medical care at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.

Published on January 15, 2018

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