How can the speciality arguments be deployed in extradition proceedings?

26 Mar 2024, 25 mins ago

In this blog we detail the principle of speciality in extradition proceedings and then examine a case in which the requested person unsuccessfully raised an argument that his speciality rights would be breached were he to be extradited.


Mr Sanjay Bhandari’s (“Mr Bhandari”) extradition to India was initially ordered by the Judge at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and his case was then sent to the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”), who also ordered Mr Bhandari’s extradition to India.

Mr Bhandari made applications for permission to appeal (on eight grounds) against both the decisions of the District Judge and the SSHD to process India’s request for his extradition (i.e. to order his extradition). Ground 8 was a challenge on speciality grounds to the decision of the SSHD to make an extradition order.

Although permission was ultimately granted on 7 of these grounds, on 19 March 2024, Mr Bhandari was refused permission to appeal on ground 8 (i.e. that for the SSHD to order his extradition would breach his rights to speciality).

In this blog we examine this specific refusal.

What is the principle of Specialty in extradition proceedings?

Speciality is a principle of international law, which provides that a person who is extradited can be prosecuted or sentenced in the requesting state only in relation to the offence(s) for which extradition was granted and not for any other crime committed before extradition took place. If you would like to read more about it, please refer to a blog here.

In the case of Mr Bhandari, permission was sought to appeal on speciality grounds against the SSHD’s decision to order his extradition.

In this case, Mr Bhandari sought to bring a novel argument against the SSHD. He claimed that the SSHD should not even have processed the request, as it was alleged that upon Mr Bhandari’s return to India, the Indian government planned to charge him with a separate crime, not listed in the extradition proceedings (thus breaching his rights to speciality).

In summary, when considering the application to appeal on ground 8, Mr Justice Saini, ultimately refused the application on ground 8 for a number of reasons. Crucially, Mr Justice Saini was satisfied that the SSHD had no reason (i.e. compelling evidence) to believe that Mr Bhandari’s speciality rights would not be protected (i.e. there was no evidence to lead him to believe that should Mr Bhandari be extradited, India would charge Mr Bhandari with a crime that was not included in the extradition request).

Justice Saini’s approach is in accordance with an approach first set out in 2013 in the case of Patel v India [2013] EWHC 819 (Admin), where it stated at [71]:

“…in light of the Treaty arrangements, the SSHD needed only to consider whether there was any compelling evidence that the Government would act contrary to its Treaty obligations.”

The approach of the UK judiciary when dealing with the speciality aspect of extradition proceedings with the Indian government.

Although the burden of proof in running an argument against the SSHD is clearly much higher as they are solely tasked with processing and not advancing requests, this judgement on speciality is yet another example of the UK judiciary’s generally favourable approach to aspects of India’s conduct in the context of extradition requests and proceedings. In summary, in the absence of any compelling evidence to the contrary, the UK Courts will assume that India will respect its obligations under international law relating to speciality. The decision is in line with past cases such as Modi v Government of India and R (on the application of Vijay Mallya) v Government of India and the Secretary of State.

However, the case against Mr Bhandari continues with his appeal on the remaining 7 grounds due to be heard in due course.


Gherson LLP can advise you in relation to all possible defences to an extradition request. If you have any questions about a current or potential extradition case, please do not hesitate to contact us,  send us an e-mail or, alternatively, follow us on XFacebook or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

Extradition requests from India fall under Category 2 of the Extradition Act 2003, and the requesting state must establish a prima facie case. Gherson have considerable experience in preparing defences to case-to-answer requests under Category 2.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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