A new India-UK Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) will cover the whole spectrum of immigration issues, including streamlining extradition processes as well as a new “bespoke” offer for greater mobility of young students and professionals in both countries, Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel has said.
In reference to high-profile Indian extradition cases, including that of former Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya and fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, the senior Indian-origin Cabinet minister admitted there have been “frustrations” in the past. But she asserted that since her tenure at the UK Home Office the extradition coordination between the two countries has “fundamentally changed and improved”.
“I am well aware of the whole issue and it is a difficult issue around economic offenders and I have watched with interest even prior to becoming Home Secretary the frustrations that were echoed to me previously by the Indian government,” Patel told PTI in an interview on Monday.
“That relationship since my tenure as Home Secretary has fundamentally changed because it has improved. I don’t think that should be lost on anyone. There is a strong and constructive relationship between the UK and India in respect of extradition and that has improved. It has also led to a range of successful extraditions that have taken place in recent years,” she said.
Patel said that even during her most recent meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, when the two ministers signed the new MMP last week, she had reassured him that the UK government is committed to working within legal frameworks to ensure serious offenders are put through the formal process to face justice in India.
“There are some high-profile cases. It is a matter of public record that just in the last month I have ordered a particular extradition (Nirav Modi), a very high-profile economic case and we will continue to work within all the legal parameters and frameworks that we have to make sure we work together,” she said.
“It is mutually important to both our countries. We cannot allow serious criminalities, serious offenders not to be put through the formal processes. We are committed to that, she added.
Patel had ordered the extradition of Modi on April 16 after Westminster Magistrates Court in London found a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering had been established against the 50-year-old in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case. He remains behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in London while he awaits a decision on his application in the High Court seeking permission to appeal against that order.
Mallya’s extradition was ordered by Patel’s predecessor, Sajid Javid, in February 2019 after a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering was upheld by the UK courts, including on appeals. The 65-year-old businessman remains on bail in Britain while a confidential legal matter, believed to be related to an asylum application, is resolved.