New Delhi: Expressing its concerns on the delays in extradition of fugitives, a Parliamentary Committee on External affairs suggested in its report to accelerate extradition proceedings and make arrangements for the same with nations where such agreements do not exist, NDTV reported.
The BJP leader PP Chaudhary headed Committee's report asserted that fugitives are taking advantage of the absence of extradition treaties and are taking refuge in the countries having provisions for citizenship by investment programmes, favourable residency or passport regimes through investment routes.
However, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the Committee that they had started extradition requests from 2017, but the agency didn't disclose the number of pending extradition requests. As of 2020, extradition proceedings were initiated against 21 offenders, and only two were extradited.
Regarding the delay of the process, the finance ministry has listed two issues. The first one is, extradition treaties exist only with 43 countries and the reciprocal arrangement with 11. The other issue is a foreign ministry circular that says extradition request can only be made in the cases where prosecution complaint has been filed. The ministry has sought an amendment to the circular.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry also repeated the same but explained to the Parliamentary Committee that with the interference of the Delhi High Court, the United Kingdom was able to extradite without filing the prosecution complaint.
The Committee was informed by agencies that under the Black Money Act, which came into force in 2015, 439 cases had been initiated involving ₹ 13,900 crores till 2020 and 96 out of these, the prosecution has been launched.
The Income Tax department has made references to foreign countries on 3,225 cases, but responses came only in 2,085. Around 2,400 Benami properties worth ₹ 13,300 crores got attachment orders under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act. 11 cases have been initiated under Fugitive Economic Offenders Act passed in 2018.
The 28 member Parliamentary Committee includes Congress MPs P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, TMC's MP Abhishek Banerjee and MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal.