criminal law


September 25, 2023



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The United Arab Emirates is a signatory of the Riyadh Arab Convention on Judicial Cooperation for Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco. In addition, the UAE has entered into bilateral treaties for judicial cooperation with the United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, Iran, Australia, China, Egypt, Kazakhstan etc.

Similarly, India has signed extradition treaties with 43 foreign countries. It has extradition arrangements with countries such as the UAE, Antigua and Barbuda, Croatia, Fiji, Italy, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania and many others.

The UAE has issued federal law no. 39 of 2006 on the ‘Mutual judicial cooperation in criminal matters' which comprises the ‘Extradition law’ of the UAE. In 2012, the UAE also ratified the extradition treaty facilitating the transfer of prisoners between the Gulf states and India.

Pursuant to the extradition treaty signed between the two countries, both countries have agreed to hand over fugitives who have committed an offence to the requesting Country where the offence was committed.

The bilateral treaty solidifies that both jurisdictions refuse to foster criminals and to cooperate fully in terms of extradition requests.

Specific Extradition Process in India with Extradition Treaty:

Extradition process refers to an action wherein one sovereign jurisdiction (requested State) delivers a person either acquitted or convicted of an international crime to the law enforcement of another jurisdiction (requesting State) upon their official request. Compliance with an extradition request involves transferring the physical custody of the accused person to the recognized legal authority of the requesting jurisdiction.

As stated above, India has signed extradition treaties with almost forty-three nations. The extradition process varies based on the factor as to whether there exists an extradition treaty between India and the Country making the extradition request. Therefore, if an extradition request is made by the UAE authorities to India, it will proceed as per the following steps.

An extradition process can be accepted in India once it is received by either:

  • Direct diplomatic channels or
  • Red notice by Interpol

The steps and measures taken for extradition when there exists a specific extradition treaty between India and the requesting nations will be as:

  • Receipt of Warrant: a warrant for arrest is issued by the requesting state as per the extradition treaty with India.
  • Endorsement of Warrant: the central government shall proceed to endorse the warrant. Once this measure is completed, the fugitive can be arrested.
  • The arrested fugitive is then presented before the magistrate court, and the magistrate will confirm the arrest and notify the central government. The fugitive will be detained in prison pending further orders from the central government.
  • The final steps will be taken by the central government to deliver the fugitive to the authorities of the requesting state.

According to the agreement signed in 2011 between the UAE and India for the ‘transfer of sentenced prisoners, both countries allow for the sentenced prisoners to be transported to their home country for their imprisonment term.

However, these provisions do not apply when the crime in question pertains to heinous crimes of murder, drug abuse, financial fraud etc.

The conditions that must be met in order for a sentenced criminal to be transferred from the UAE to India or Vice versa:

  • A minimum imprisonment term of at least six months should be pending.
  • A final conviction should have been awarded against the person, and no other cases should exist against the said person.
  • The request for transfer is confirmed by both the UAE and India.
  • Tax and customs crimes could be subject to extradition if the same act was criminalized in both countries.
  • If the person was just a partner, then the request for the extradition could be accepted against him

Question: Sometimes the criminal law covers acts which were done out of the national territory as exceptional rules although the criminal law only applies to the act in the national territory and in some rare cases the person could be punished if the crime was committed outside.

The question here can the extradition be done or requested on the basis of a crime done out of the territory?

Answer: Yes, that could be done. However, the requested country could take the decision in light of the circumstances and danger of the crime.

Question: Could the extradition be done on the basis of political crimes?

Answer: It is subject to the power of the requested country whether to execute the extradition for political rights or not and Article No. 6 of the treaty gives the power to the requested country to refuse the extradition if they believe that the crime is political.

Question: What happens if the requested country receives more than one extradition request from different countries at the same time?

Answer: According to Article No. 12 of the signed treaty, the priority in such cases shall be given to:

  1. The country that faced damage because of the crime and such damage affected the national security interest of their citizens, then
  2. The country where the commission of the crime has been done on their land or territory, then
  3. The country where the accused belongs by nationality.

After executing extradition, the person shall not be delivered to a third country without the approval of the requested country.

If the person got detained while the investigation is going on before the extradition is executed, then such detention period shall be deducted from the sentence.

Exceptions to Extradition Requests:

Both India and UAE do not allow extradition requests for their nationals.

However, in such instances, the accused can still be tried in one jurisdiction based on the case instituted in the other. With the recent changes imparted in the extent of judicial cooperation between both countries in 2020, India now accepts direct execution of the final judgment issued by a UAE civil court concerning civil or financial matters.

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