Death penalty becomes stumbling block for India-Germany MLAT

The provision of death penalty in the law has become a stumbling block for India and Germany to sign a pact for cooperation on criminal matters.

New Delhi: The provision of death penalty in the law has become a stumbling block for India and Germany to sign a pact for cooperation on criminal matters.

India and Germany has been negotiating since 2007 to sign the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in criminal matters but has not been able to reach a conclusion due to Berlin's strong reservation to the provision of death penalty in Indian law.

"Its (MLAT) importance has been underscored by our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and Chancellor (Angela Merkel). The negotiations have not been progressing on account of differences on the issue of 'death penalty'.

"I am aware that this matter is handled by your Ministry of Justice, however, we seek your active support so that the treaty is concluded at an early date," Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told his German counterpart Gunter Krings here today.

Krings is here as part of the delegation of Merkel, who is on a three-day visit to India. Krings and Rijiju today signed two MoUs on security matters.

An MLAT is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public laws or criminal laws.

Mechanisms have been developed among nations for requesting and obtaining evidence for criminal investigations and prosecutions.

When evidence or other forms of legal assistance, such as witness statements or the service of documents, are needed from a foreign sovereign, states may attempt to cooperate informally through their respective police agencies or, alternatively, resort to what is typically referred to as requests for 'mutual legal assistance'.

The Law Commission has already recommendation for abolition of death penalty except in terror-related cases. However, the Home Ministry is believed to be against it maintaining that time was not ripe yet to remove it completely from the statute book keeping in mind the threat from terrorism.

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