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State of West Bengal v. Jugal Kishore More and anr. - (Supreme Court) (10 Jan 1969)

Wide berth for government to secure extradition



Enactment of the Extradition Act 1962 does not prohibit the Indian government from securing extradition of an offender through diplomatic channels.

In 1969 the Supreme Court heard an appeal that was as much about Indian policy towards extradition of persons from other countries as it was the interpretation of statute. The Respondents faced an extradition warrant issued by a Chief Presidency Magistrate for being party to a criminal conspiracy to defraud the Indian government of foreign exchange. The warrant was forwarded to the Ministry of External Affairs, which made an official request to government in Hong Kong to extradite the Respondents. However, the Calcutta High Court, though of the opinion that the warrant was not illegal, opined the steps to have been taken without jurisdiction. The Indian government could not have made the request to the Hong Kong government in the absence of a notified order under Section 3 of the Extradition Act 1962. The Supreme Court noted that though Hong Kong was indeed not notified in the list of Commonwealth countries from which extradition of fugitives may be secured, provisions of the Extradition Act could not be availed for securing his presence. However, that hardly precluded the government from making a diplomatic request. “If the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong was willing to hand over More for trial in this country, it cannot be said that the warrant issued by the Chief Presidency Magistrate for the arrest of More with the aid of which requisition for securing his presence from Hong Kong was to be made, was illegal.” Much umbrage had also been taken by the High Court with “British Possessions and Protective States including Hong Kong and British India” an archaic, and anachronistic phrase in the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881. The Supreme Court was curt in its deliberation of this. “The expression "British Possession" in the old statutes merely survives an artificial mode of reference, undoubtedly not consistent with political realities, but does not imply for the purpose of the statute or otherwise political dependence of the Government of the territories referred to”.

Relevant : C. G. Menon's case MANU/SC/0062/1954 Section 3 Extradition Act, 1962


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