Friday, May 09, 2003
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By P. S. Suryanarayana
According to diplomatic and legal sources, one option before New Delhi is to rely on the Interpol to `deliver' the Italian national. Should the Interpol evince interest, despite Mr. Quattrocchi's exoneration by the Malaysian judiciary, the challenge then will be one of addressing the legal nicety that he has not been found guilty of an extradition-grade offence in a country where legal proceedings were actually carried to a conclusion.
For India, problematic indeed is even the small window of opportunity to take the issue to Malaysia's Federal Court.
The decisiveness of the latest ruling by the Court of Appeal is the factor that complicates New Delhi's search for a way to approach the court, if this slim "option" is to be considered at all.
Alternatively, India can perhaps formulate specific charges and seek Mr. Quattrocchi's extradition all over again if at all the Malaysian authorities are agreeable to such a course of action.
Two factors become relevant to this. First, the Malaysian authorities, who have been holding India's brief in the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty, know full well that Mr. Quattrocchi must be treated as an exonerated person following the latest judgment.
The Italian national was not in Malaysia when the Court of Appeal delivered its verdict on April 30.
He had left Malaysia soon after the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled in his favour on December 13 last year.
The Court of Appeal has now ruled that its own order of December 16 last year, which called for the impounding of Mr. Quattrocchi's passport (despite his departure from Malaysia) "cannot stand" as India's "appeal (itself) is void". Secondly, India has not so far framed formal charges against Mr. Quattrocchi, pending the completion of investigations against him and other legal formalities in line with the relevant norms of jurisprudence.
However, this aspect has gone against India, with the High Court passing stringent strictures against New Delhi's "failure" and "unwillingness" to lay formal charges against Mr. Quattrocchi for the purpose of showing whether or not he had committed extradition-grade offences.
As for the legal sustainability of an appeal against the High Court's decision in these circumstances, the Court of Appeal has now concurred with Mr. Quattrocchi's counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, that there is no such right under Malaysia's Extradition Act of 1992.
The court of Appeal said: "The main decision of the High Court is the confirmation of (Mr. Quattrocchi's) discharge order by the Sessions Court, which (order) we hold is not appealable''.
A matter of some academic comfort to India is the manner in which the Malaysian Court of Appeal has pointed out a relevant lacuna.
It said: "It is unfortunate that the determination of such important issues (be) left only to the High Court. ...We think that the legislature should consider amending the (Extradition) Act to provide for appeals in cases such as this''.
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