Government trying to protect Lalit Modi through extradition: Congress

New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS) The Congress on Friday accused the Modi government of trying to protect former cricket IPL chief Lalit Modi by seeking his extradition and not ‘deportation’ from Britain which, it said, was a 8-10 year lengthy process.

“The Modi government has attempted to bury the ‘Modigate’ scandal by asserting that the deportation of Indian fugitive Lalit Modi is not possible. Both inside and outside parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj have maintained that the only option is to proceed with the extradition of Lalit Modi,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told the media on Friday.

“The Modi government has taken this stance with the full knowledge that the extradition process is lengthy enough to take 8-10 years, by which public memory will move away from the Modigate affair,” he added.

The Congress also accused the BJP-led government of not putting in public domain various communications exchanged between the then finance minister P. Chidambaram and the British government for the immediate deportation of Lalit Modi for prosecution under Indian laws.

“Chidambaram wrote three letters dated July 8, 2013, August 21, 2013 and March 14, 2014 for Lalit Modi’s deportation instead of extradition. The letters were written to George Osborne, the then chancellor of exchequer, UK,” Surjewala added.

The Congress on Monday released two communications to the media, one dated July 17, 2013 written by Osborne in reply to Chidambaram’s letter and the other dated August 21, 2013 written by Chidambaram to Osborne in response.

But the letters written by Chidambaram to Osborne on July 8, 2013 and March 14, 2014 were not shared with the media.

Interestingly, Osborne in his reply of July 17, 2013 to Chidambaram’s July 8 letter requesting the deportation of Lalit Modi, who has had his passport revoked by the Indian government, wrote: “It is the case that an individual does not require a valid passport in order to remain in the UK if their passport was valid when they entered.

“For UK assistance to be provided in any criminal investigation, an extradition request should be made under the usual mechanisms for international judicial cooperation. We will then of course provide full assistance in so far as UK law will allow,” Osborne said.

Meanwhile, in his letter dated August 21, 2013, Chidambaram cited 2,784 cases where ’emergency certificates’ were issued to the Indian High Commission in five years up to 2013 and where deportation was done by UK authorities.

“The then Indian government pointed out the fact that Lalit Modi’s passport had been revoked and there was no reason to consider him differently. The Indian government also pointed out that Lalit Modi was evading investigation in serious offences registered in India by his continued stay in the UK,” said Surjewala.

“What is most noteworthy is the fact that the deportation of illegal immigrants from the UK does not require the person being deported to be facing criminal proceedings in the country of his origin. Deportation (also called ‘Removal Proceeding’) is possible under Sections 9 and 10 of Immigration and Asylum Act, 1999 in UK,” the Congress leader added.

Surjewala futher said: “Jaitley specifically told parliament that for deportation of a person from the UK, there has to be a criminal case against the person concerned. He pointed out that as there was no criminal case against Lalit Modi, extradition was the only option. He himself admitted in parliament on August 12, 2015 that an FIR had been registered against Lalit Modi in 2010, which was converted into a Prevention of Money Laundering case in 2012.”

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