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UK Court Clears Extradition of Alleged Bookie Sanjeev Chawla

The Westminster Magistrates' Court in London gave the go-ahead to extradite 50-year-old Chawla.

PTI |January 7, 2019, 6:02 PM IST
UK Court Clears Extradition of Alleged Bookie Sanjeev Chawla

London: A British court on Monday cleared the extradition of Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, a key accused in the cricket match-fixing scandal involving former South African captain Hansie Cronje in 2000, in a major boost to India's efforts to bring back the alleged bookie to face match-fixing charges.

The Westminster Magistrates' Court in London gave the go-ahead to extradite 50-year-old Chawla.

A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service, which argued on behalf of India in the extradition case, said, "The district judge on Monday quashed its earlier order and cleared the extradition of Sanjeev Chawla to India."

The case will now go to Home Secretary Sajid Javid for a formal extradition order. If the Home Secretary thinks extradition should go ahead, he has to order extradition within two months from the date the matter was referred to him.

According to court documents, the Delhi-born businessman had moved to the UK on a business visa in 1996, where he has been based while making trips back and forth to India.

After his Indian passport was revoked in 2000, Chawla obtained a UK passport in 2005 and is now a British citizen.

Chawla has been accused of acting as link between Cronje and bookies who wanted to fix matches in early 2000. He was arrested in London in June 2016.

In November, the UK High Court quashed a lower court's order against extraditing Chawla to India and directed the District Judge to re-start the extradition proceedings against him after being convinced with the assurances by the Indian government on the safety of prison conditions in New Delhi's Tihar jail.

Chawla had won the case against his extradition to India in 2017 after the Westminster Magistrates' Court concluded there was a prima facie case to answer but his human rights could not be guaranteed in Tihar jail, where he was to be held.

In its ruling, the High Court said that it is convinced with the assurances provided by the Indian government regarding the safety of prison conditions in Tihar jail as it quashed the lower court's order against extraditing Chawla.

District Judge Crane's judgment dated October 16, 2017, had accepted a prima facie case against Chawla over his role in the fixing of "cricket matches played between India and South Africa during the tour of the South African Cricket Team to India under the captainship of Cronje in February-March 2000".

The significant move to order Chawla's extradition came nearly a month after a UK court in December ordered liquor baron Vijay Mallya's extradition and said there were substantial "misrepresentations" in flamboyant billionaire's characterisations of his financial dealings.

Mallya, wanted in India on fraud and money laundering charges amounting to nearly Rs 9,000 crore, has denied the allegations and disputed the jail conditions at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai as part of his defence.

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