UK courts should not ask about our jail conditions, Modi told May

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Theresa May that the UK courts should not question the conditions of jails in India while considering pleas for the extradition of fugitives, as the leaders of the country's freedom struggle had been incarcerated by the British Raj itself in the same prisons. Reuters file photo

The courts in the United Kingdom should not question the conditions of jails in India while considering pleas for the extradition of fugitives, as the leaders of the country's freedom struggle had been incarcerated by the British Raj itself in the same prisons, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Theresa May, his British counterpart.

"The prime minister told British prime minister during his visit to London for Commonwealth Summit that it was not befitting for the UK courts to ask about the condition of the jails in India, as these were the same prisons where they had held our leaders like (Mahatma) Gandhi and (Jawaharlal) Nehru and other freedom fighters," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday.

She was reacting to reports about poor conditions of jails in India being cited before the courts in the UK to challenge pleas for the extradition of fugitives, including business tycoon Vijay Mallya.

Modi visited London last month to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet. He had a bilateral meeting with the British prime minister on the sidelines of the summit.

Mallya is wanted in India for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines' default on loans worth nearly Rs 9,000 crore. He left India for the UK on March 2, 2016 — the day a consortium of 13 banks, which had given the loan to his company, moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal to step up pressure on him to return the money.

India in February 2017 asked the UK to extradite him. He was arrested by the UK police and was produced before the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on April 18 last year for an extradition hearing and was granted conditional bail. The hearing on the plea for his extradition has since been going on at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London and it is slated to resume in July.

The Central Bureau of Investigation already submitted before the court, through the Crown Prosecution Service of the UK, the details of the facilities available in the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai where he would be lodged in case the court granted his extradition to India.

A court in the UK, hearing the plea for suspected cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla, recently raised questions about the condition of Tihar Jail in Delhi and pointed out overcrowding in the prison and incidents of the fight among the prisoners. The court asked the Government of India to submit before it further assurances within six weeks on the personal space that would be made available to Chawla, in case he was extradited from the UK to India.

The UK court also sought assurance from New Delhi on the toilet and medical facilities that would be guaranteed to Chawla as well as the arrangements that would be made to protect him from clashes among the prisoners, in case he was extradited to India.

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UK courts should not ask about our jail conditions, Modi told May

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