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Delhi High Court: An Accused Cannot Be Arrested In Any Case Till A Request For Extradition Is Merited

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: The petitioner’s contention that he cannot be arrested in any other case till the pending extradition requests are acceded to by the Republic of Indonesia, is merited held by Justice Vibhu Bakhru in Vinay Mittal vs. Union of India & Ors. [WR (CRL) 562/2019].

Case No: W.P.(CRL) 562/2019 & CRL.M.A. 3920/2019

Date of Judgment: 18th August, 2020



The petitioner claims that he was an employee of one Mr Bharat Rana Chaudhary, drawing a salary of ₹25,000 to 30,000/-, and has been falsely implicated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (hereafter ‘CBI’) in various cases alleging siphoning of funds of Punjab National Bank(PNB). However, the CBI disregarded his role and in the year 2014 filed charge sheets against him in various cases. Although the petitioner was being investigated in several cases, he was not arrested in those cases. The petitioner left this country in May, 2015 and failed and neglected to appear before the Courts in the proceedings instituted by the CBI.

In view of the petitioner’s failure to attend the court proceedings, a red corner notice was issued against the petitioner on 21.10.2016. Pursuant to the said notice, the Indonesian Authorities arrested the petitioner on 16.01.2017in Denpasar, Indonesia. The petitioner was extradited in terms of a decree dated 04.06.2018 passed by the President of the Republic of Indonesia pursuant to an extradition request made by the Government of India. The petitioner was brought to India by the CBI on 20.09.2018. He was produced before the Special Judicial Magistrate, Ghaziabad on 22.09.2018 and was remanded to judicial custody.

Contention of the Petitioner

The petitioner claims that initially he had joined the investigation and cooperated with the prosecution. He submits that he is neither the prime accused nor the prime beneficiary of the alleged offences. The petitioner contends that his arrests in other cases are illegal and violate Section 21 of the Extradition Act, 1962. It is contended on behalf of the petitioner that since he was extradited only in one matter, he could not be prosecuted in other cases filed against him. It is contended that the same is not permissible in view of the Rule of Speciality as embodied in Article 14 of the extradition treaty between Republic of India and Republic of Indonesia.

Observation of the Court

The petitioner is involved in seven separate cases instituted by the CBI. The CBI alleges that the petitioner was a proprietor of two firms, namely, M/s Krishna and Krishna Enterprises and M/s Mittal Metals. And, the bank account of these firms were used to siphon off funds from the banks. It is alleged that an aggregate amount of funds involved in the seven cases is approximately ₹4319.56 lacs. After completion of the investigations, charge sheets were filed in all seven cases against the petitioner in different courts in Delhi and Ghaziabad.

During the course of the trial, the petitioner absconded from this country and was, thereafter, declared a proclaimed offender. CBI claims that after the petitioner was located in Indonesia and accordingly, an extradition request in CBI was sent through proper channels to the Indonesian Authorities. Thereafter, six separate extradition requests in the remaining six cases, were also made through diplomatic channels. Admittedly, the petitioner has been extradited in CBI. It is stated that the CBI has taken up matters through the Ministry of External Affairs to expedite the other extradition requests but a decision is awaited.

A copy of the extradition request sent by the CBI in case no. RC 220/2013 E 0014 has been placed on record and the same indicates that it was limited to the First Information Report which was registered on 23.12.2013 on the basis of a written complaint dated 20.11.2013 received from one Mr Anjan Chattopadhyay, Assistant General Manager, Punjab National Bank. It is alleged in the said complaint that one Mr Ramesh Suri and some unknown persons had committed the offence punishable under Sections 419/420/467/468/471 read with section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. The complainant alleged that Mr Ramesh Suri, proprietor of M/s Orient Trading Company, had availed of a loan of ₹ 325 lacs and had offered immovable property bearing no. 383, Sector 15A, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India as collateral to secure the payment obligations. The loan account of M/s Orient Trading Company (Mr Ramesh Suri) was classified as a non-performing asset (NPA) on 31.12.2012. The amount outstanding and payable to PNB on that date was ₹389 lacs. The officials of PNB made efforts to contact the borrower as well as the guarantor at their given address but found that they were unavailable. The Punjab National Bank also found that the collateral provided as security for the said loan (immovable property bearing no. 383, Sector 15A, Noida, Uttar Pradesh) was also disputed.

Investigations were conducted by the CBI. It is alleged that the petitioner was part of a criminal conspiracy to defraud Punjab National Bank and their actions had resulted in a wrongful loss of approximately ₹389 lacs to the Punjab National Bank. Undisputedly, in terms of the extradition treaty entered into between India and Republic of Indonesia, a person extradited in accordance with the treaty cannot be proceeded against for any offence committed by that person before he was surrender or extradited, other than the offence for which the extradition is granted. Article 14 of the said Treaty which sets out the Rule of Speciality. It is also relevant to refer to Section 21 of the Extradition Act, 1962.It is clear from the language of Section 21 of the Extradition Act, 1962 that a person who has been extradited and returned by a foreign State cannot be tried in India for an offence other than the extradition offence in relation to which he was surrendered or returned.

In view of the above, the petitioner’s contention that he cannot be arrested in any other case till the pending extradition requests are acceded to by the Republic of Indonesia, is merited. Mr Bhardwaj, learned SPP appearing for CBI does not counter the contentions advanced on behalf of the petitioner; however, he submits that it ought to be clarified that in the event Republic of Indonesia accedes to the extradition requests in respect of other cases that are pending with the Indonesian Authorities, there would be no impediment in arresting the petitioner in those cases.

Decision of the Court

In view of the above, the present petition is allowed. It is, however, clarified that there would be no impediment in the CBI prosecuting the petitioner in other cases ones the extradition requests in respect of those cases are acceded to by the Republic of Indonesia.

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