Extradition law in India

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Establishing an operation dating back to the ancient past, countries put together extradition treaties so they can chase down fugitives and other wanted citizens in distant jurisdictions. Extradition has become ever more significant given the advancement of transnational criminal organizations, including those involved in terrorism, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, and cybercrime.

Many countries have extradition treaties with many countries. But still with treaties in place, extraditions are frequently debatable and most of the time become catched up in geopolitical friction. Situations and occasions in which nations have no extradition treaty often blend many people's attention. 

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Extradition, in international law, is the exercise by which one country, upon the entreaty of another, possesses the return of a citizen for trial for a crime punishable by the laws of the petitioning nation and committed outside the country of refuge. Extraditable citizens include those charged with a crime but not yet tried, those tried and sentenced who have run off from custody, and those sentenced in absentia. The solicitation differentiates extradition from other parameters—such as banishment, expulsion, and deportation—which also affect the compulsory termination of undesirable persons.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India defines extradition as “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”.

The Extradition Act 1962

  • Section 2(d) of The Indian Extradition Act 1962 defines an ‘Extradition Treaty’ as a Treaty or an Agreement made by India with a Foreign State, relating to the extradition of fugitive criminals which extends to and is binding on India. Extradition treaties are traditionally bilateral in character.
  • The Extradition Act 1962 gives India legislative grounds for extradition. It integrated the law relating to the extradition of criminal escapees from India to other countries. The Indian Extradition Act, 1962 was considerably changed in 1993 by Act 66 of 1993.
  • The Act makes us aware of the list of extradition offenses - an offence provided for in the extradition treaty with that nation. The operation has to be started by the Union government of India.
  • As our country has extradition treaties with only forty-four nations and extradition positions with another nine nations, where there is no treaty the Union government is authorized to take steps by announcing a notification and treating any convention to which our country and the alien country are involved in the extradition treaty.

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Since 2002 India had extradited 73 fugitives, as per the recent report (as of January 2022) on the Ministry of external affairs website. But, as per the reply provided in the upper house of the parliament by MEA, in April 2018, there are 150 pending applications for extradition.

Scrutiny of the available data indicates that UAE has extradited the highest number of people (23) to our country, and then by USA which has extradited 10 escapees return to our nation.

In aspects of crimes by these escapees, Murder, Criminal conspiracy, and Terrorism top the list of crimes committed by the extradited escapees.

Five Principles of the Extradition Treaty: 

Generally, there are five principles that are followed under the treaty: 

  • Principle of extraditable offences keeps and sets that extradition applies only to offences clearly there in the treaty; 
  • Principle applies for both extraditing persons to country and from Ione country to foreign countries
  • Principle of dual criminality needs that the offence for which the extradition is ordered, must be an offence in both nations I.e. extradition requesting nation and the requested nation; 
  • Requested country must be satisfied that there is a prima facie incident made out against the main accused; 
  • Extradited person should be made against only for the offence (rule of speciality), for which his extradition was ordered; and He should be accorded a free and fair trial.

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Important Extradition Cases in India

Let's look at some important extradition cases in India where extradition treaties or act was used.

1911 V D Savarkar Case 

V. D. Savarkar was an Indian freedom fighter who was being brought to our country by a vessel, a case was to be kept on him for encouraging treason and crime in the court of British India. Savarkar got away from the ship but was captured by the French police. The captain of the French ship gave him over to the captain of the British ship.Next, the French government demanded the British government to send Savarkar because extradition-related laws haven’t been correctly followed in this case. And the case went to the International court of justice where judgment was given in favor of Britain. The then law experts criticized it.

Dharma Teja Case 1972

Dharam Teja was the director of a shipping corporation that got refuge in the Ivory Coast by stealing crores of rupees. Ivory Coast rejected sending Dharma Teja regarding the non-extradition treaty between India and Ivory Coast. Later Dharma Teja went to London and was brought to India in 1972 where he was sentenced to crime.

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Status of extradition in India

India has been able to extradite back many of the escapees in the earlier time. But, failures were also viewed in the case of a lot of offenders. 

Extradition with successful instances: 

In the case of the AgustaWestland chopper deal, another Rajiv Saxena was extradited from the UAE in 2019 January. Mohammed Yahya, who faced charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery was extradited from Indonesia on 12th  October, 2018. Vinay Mittal, who faced charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery, was extradited from Indonesia on 9th September 2018. Chhota Rajan was extradited from Indonesia on 6th November 2015, on the offences of murder and kidnapping. Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005 to have the trail in the case of 1993 Bombay bomb blasts. 

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Present and ongoing extradition cases:

India is in the operation of extraditing Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya from the United Kingdom for their crimes of economical and financial frauds. Similarly, Tahawwur Rana, a prime convict in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, will be extradited from the United States of America. Earlier UK court allowed the Indian government's request to have Modi extradited to India as a key accused in the PNB fraud case but Nirav Modi's extradition to India is getting delayed further as his lawyer raises fresh objections on 29th June 2022.


Extradition with Failed instances: 

At present India has more than a hundred pending requests. Therefore, the Central Bureau of India should expedient to globally accepted rules of interrogation, otherwise, it gives other escapees reasons to take away the request for extradition to our Nation. India's track record in accepting its diplomatic needs can have an impact on high-profile cases in the courts of the United Kingdom, including Vijay Mallya's and Nirav Modi's. Extradition progression works on the basis of trust and any misleading to abide by the promises would undoubtedly breach the trust between the respective court and the Government of India. There is no doubt that measures such as The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 are indicators in the right direction so far dealing with those escapees is concerned. But what we should do now, if our nation really wants to put a full stop to this hazard, then there should be more signatures of extradition treaties with more nations. That is the best way forward.

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1. What does extradition mean?
2. What are the necessary conditions for law of extradition?