India has provided sovereign assurances and details of the Barrack number 12 of Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, where diamantaire Nirav Modi facing extradition is to be lodged, as a British valuer of gems and jewellery deposed in his favour on the fourth day of his trial on Thursday.
Conditions in Indian jails have been one of the major objections highlighted in extradition cases in the UK. The issue was dealt with in exhaustive detail in the Vijay Mallya case, in which the Westminster Magistrates Court upheld India’s assurances and details submitted.
Similar objections have been raised by Modi’s defence team – including alleged presence of rats, insects, uncovered drains and noise from slums near the jail – as part of its contention that there is risk to his human rights in the Arthur Road jail.
UK courts are obliged to refuse extradition if there is a risk of the requested person’s human rights in the country that makes the extradition request.
As in the Mallya case, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) opposed Modi’s claims in its ‘skeleton argument’, stating that his submissions “fail to acknowledge the recent consideration of this issue in the Mallya proceedings” by judge Emma Arbuthnot of the magistrates court in her December 2018 judgement.
The CPS documents states: “In Mallya, the Senior District Judge was required to consider assurances offered by the GOI (government of India) in the same terms as those offered in this case. She conducted an exhaustive consideration of whether those assurance could be accepted…She concluded that they could be accepted”.
The assurances provided by the ministry of home affairs, the CPS told the court, are plainly sufficient to meet the concerns raised by Modi’s team. The document goes on to specifically address points raised and cited video footage of the jail and other submissions as evidence:
Overcrowding: Barrack No. 12 has two cells, with a maximum capacity of six inmates (per cell). The RP (requested person) would be provided a minimum of 3 square meters of personal space throughout the course of his detention. The video of the cell amply demonstrates availability of sufficient space.
Heat, noise and lack of privacy: This is not accepted. Barrack No. 12 has adequate space, which ensures privacy. The cell is well ventilated and provides adequate air circulation and the concern about heat is unfounded. There is no noise in the cell which is separated from its surroundings by at least 20 feet by way of thick high stone walls.
Metal casing causing excessive heat in the cell: The metal casing starts after clearing a ground level of 20 feet and provides a security cover to the cell. The ground clearance of 20 feet ensures adequate air circulation and actually helps in regulating temperatures. Further the ceiling is about 20 feet high and hence naturally cool in summers. Mumbai has a moderate climate and does not experience extreme temperature.
Insufficient/natural light: The video amply shows adequate natural light enough to allow reading during day time. In addition, there are ‘06 tube lights’ to afford adequate artificial light at night. The lights are shown in the video.
Dust and noise pollution from the adjoining slum areas: The concern is unfounded as the cell is separated from the outside area by way of a thick 20 feet high stone wall.
Uncovered drains and presence of rats and insects: The video clearly shows that there are no uncovered drains in and around Barrack No.12. There are no rats or insects in the cell, another fact demonstrated by the video. The assurance further provides that the Municipal Corporation visits Barrack No. 12 once a week and fumigates the barrack.
Absence of pharmacy/medicines: Round the clock medicare facilities assured by the government of India naturally include medicines as prescribed by doctors and specialists and the same would be provided to the RP as and when so prescribed.
Access to hospitals: A 24-hour ambulance service is available to carry inmates to the nearby hospitals if required.
Emergency access to hospitals: The ambulance service is available 24 hours a day.
The CPS said India has provided “comprehensive rebuttals” to the evidence served on Modi’s behalf, adding that “no evidence has been served that justifies a departure from the approach taken in Mallya”.
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