Hong Kong resident Ramanjit Singh loses appeal bid on clarification of extradition charges under bilateral agreement

·3-min read

The High Court has refused to back an appeal bid from a Hong Kong resident challenging his extradition to India over his alleged involvement in a jailbreak on the subcontinent five years ago.

Ramanjit Singh, also known as Romi, had applied for a certificate to bring his case to the Court of Final Appeal for clarification on whether charges relating to escape from lawful custody were included in the list of extraditable offences under the city’s bilateral agreement with India.

But the Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld its July ruling that there was a catch-all provision to include those charges in the Fugitive Offenders (India) Order, and threw out the application.

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Hong Kong resident wanted in India over jailbreak loses extradition appeal

Mr Justice Kevin Zervos said the issue was “simply a question of interpretation” of the relevant provision in its contextual legal framework.

“We do not find that the point of law raised by this application is one of great and general importance, meriting an appeal to the Court of Final Appeal,” he wrote in giving judgment of the bench, which also included Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Andrew Macrae and Mr Justice Derek Pang Wai-cheong.

However, Singh can still seek leave to appeal directly from the top court on the same ground, or by showing it is reasonably arguable that substantial and grave injustice has been done in his case.

Delhi wants to try the 33-year-old over a notorious jailbreak in the northern state of Punjab in November 2016, which resulted in six criminals escaping from a maximum-security prison, as well as over a series of lesser offences.

Ramanjit Singh ramps up fight against extradition from Hong Kong to India

Singh has been held pursuant to an order of committal in Hong Kong since November 2019, when Eastern Court ruled the Indian government had satisfied extradition requirements and gathered enough evidence to try him on 18 charges, relating to possession of firearms, assisting an offender and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

At issue was whether he could be extradited on three more escape charges, which Delhi insisted were covered by a clause it described as a catch-all provision in the order applicable under the agreement.

The clause covers “any other offences not referred to in the previous [33] items … which are punishable by imprisonment … for at least one year … and are also offences for which surrender may be granted in accordance with the laws of both parties”.

Ramanjit Singh is escorted to the High Court in September of last year. Photo: Edmond So
Ramanjit Singh is escorted to the High Court in September of last year. Photo: Edmond So

Eastern Court ruled against the Indian government, but the Court of First Instance overturned that finding last November, with the Court of Appeal upholding the position in July.

The court previously heard Singh was accused of helping to plan the jailbreak while he was in prison with the six others following his arrest on June 4, 2016, over a separate case tied to possession of firearms and fake credit cards.

Prosecutors alleged that Singh took part in meetings with the inmates, during which he said he would go to Hong Kong upon his release and send funds for the purchase of firearms to be used during the jailbreak.

Singh fled to Hong Kong while on bail and allegedly sent funds to a man in India for the purpose of the jailbreak, which saw a group of armed individuals escape.

This article Hong Kong resident Ramanjit Singh loses appeal bid on clarification of extradition charges under bilateral agreement first appeared on South China Morning Post

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