UK awaits final court orders to extradite Sanjeev Chawla to India
The UK government on Monday confirmed that Sanjeev Chawla, wanted in India to face match-fixing allegations, will be extradited within 28 days as he has exhausted all his rights to appeal in British courts.
Chawla had lost a last-ditch appeal on human rights grounds against former UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid's extradition order at a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice in London last Thursday.
The 50-year-old London-based businessman, a key accused in the match-fixing scandal involving former South African cricket captain late Hansie Cronje in 2000, is expected to be booked on a flight to New Delhi in the next few days once the formal paperwork is completed.
"The Secretary of State signed the order for Sanjeev Chawla's extradition to India in February 2019. He has now exhausted his rights to appeal," a UK Home Office spokesperson said.
"Once the final orders from the court have been received, arrangements will be made for his extradition to take place within 28 days," the spokesperson said.
This would mark the first high-profile extradition of its kind under the India-UK Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992. The extradition of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, wanted in connection with the Godhra riots in Gujarat, from the UK to India in October 2016 had been uncontested and therefore did not have to go through various levels of appeals in the UK courts.
Chawla's case would also mark a turning point on the matter of prison conditions in India, a stumbling block in past extradition cases, with the High Court in England accepting a series of Indian government assurances over the accused's "safety and security" and complying with international requirements around "personal space and hygiene" while in custody.
India has also offered additional guarantees on medical facilities and protection from intra-prisoner violence in Delhi's Tihar Jail, where Chawla is to be held pre-trial on being extradited.
Following an extradition trial in October 2017, Westminster Magistrates' Court in London had concluded that while Chawla had a prima facie case to answer, his human rights could not be guaranteed in Tihar. This ruling was challenged in the High Court by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities.
In a judgment handed down in the Royal Courts of Justice in London in November 2018, a two-judge panel upheld the Indian government's appeal and directed the District Judge to review the order against Chawla and proceed with an extradition order.
In January last year, the magistrates' court issued a renewed order, which was sent to then Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who formally signed off on it as per the India-UK Extradition Treaty.
Chawla, who has been present in court during the various hearings over the last four years and tried to hide away from media cameras, lost a final attempt at an appeal last week.
According to court documents in the case, Chawla is described as a Delhi-born businessman who moved to the UK on a business visa in 1996, where he has been based while making trips back and forth to India.
After his Indian passport was revoked in 2000, he obtained a UK passport in 2005 and became a British citizen.
Chawla is alleged to have played a central role in conspiring with Cronje to fix a South African tour to India in February-March 2000.