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Pak can, in fact, hand over fugitives to India

January 18, 2009 16:56 IST

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Pakistan, which is claiming it has no legal arrangement with India for handing over terror suspects following the Mumbai [Images] attacks, is forgetting one of its own Acts, which provides for transfer of such people to a country with which it has not signed an extradition treaty.

The Extradition Act, 1972 of Pakistan clearly specifies that Islamabad [Images] can hand over anyone accused of terrorism or any other criminal act in a foreign country to that government even if there is no Extradition Treaty.

The Act underlines that a suspect, sought for any offence by a country with which Pakistan has no extradition treaty, should be 'surrendered' irrespective of whether a court in Pakistan has jurisdiction to try that offence.

"Where the Federal government considers it expedient that the persons who, being accused or convicted of offences at places within, or within the jurisdiction of, a foreign State, are or are suspected to be in Pakistan should be returned to the State (country), notwithstanding that there is no extradition treaty with that State," says Section 49(1) of the Act.

The law, enacted on September 24, 1972, says that under the Act the suspects can be handed over to a country with which there is no extradition treaty exactly like it is done in the case of a country with which Pakistan has such inked such an accord.

The Act makes it clear that "every fugitive offender shall be liable to be apprehended and surrendered in the manner provided in this Act, whether the offence in respect of which his surrender is sought was committed before or after the commencement of this Act and whether or not a court in Pakistan has jurisdiction to try that offence."

India has been pressing Pakistan to hand over about 40 fugitives of Indian law, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed [Images], who are wanted in serious crimes of terrorism in the country.

Pakistan, however, has been claiming that since it has no extradition treaty with India, it would not be able to hand over any of the Pakistani nationals.

Commenting on the Extradition Act of Pakistan, official sources in New Delhi [Images] wondered why Islamabad is claiming it cannot hand over anybody if such a law exists in that country.

"This raises questions over Pakistan's sincerity," the sources said, adding the world should take note of it.

The Act says that a requisition for the 'surrender of a fugitive offender' shall be made to Federal government of Pakistan by a diplomatic representative in Pakistan of a country asking for the surrender, or by the government of a country asking for the surrender through the diplomatic representative of Pakistan in that country.

The requisition can also be made in any other manner "as may have been settled by arrangement between the Federal government (of Pakistan) and the government of the State asking for the surrender," the Pakistani Act says.

The sources pointed out that India has already made requisitions to Pakistan government in the format prescribed in that country's law but still it is not acting. "This, in fact, amounts to violation by the Pakistan government of its own law," they said.

The law also makes it clear that a fugitive may be extradited even if an offence has been committed on board any vessel on the high seas or any aircraft in the air outside Pakistan or the Pakistan territorial waters and such vessel or aircraft comes into any port or aerodrome of Pakistan with the fugitive offender on board.

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