Sanjay Bhandari Extradition: All the Cases Against Arms Dealer & UK Court Order

Bhandari is wanted in India in money laundering, tax evasion, and other cases dating back to the UPA's rule.

South Asians
3 min read
Hindi Female

A court in the United Kingdom (UK) on Monday, 7 November, ordered the extradition of fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari to India – marking the third such extradition order in recent times, after Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.

Why? Bhandari is wanted in India in connection with money laundering, tax evasion and other cases that date back to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)'s rule.

What Did the Court Say? 

District Judge Michael Snow, who had heard the case in London earlier this year, said that there was no bar for Bhandari to be extradited. He had also sent the case to Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman to approve, according to news agency PTI.

"As I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant's Convention rights, I must send this case to the Secretary of State (Braverman) for a decision as to whether the defendant is to be extradited," Snow had said.


Assurances Given by India 

However, he gave the order on the basis of assurances provided by the Indian government concerning Bhandari's incarceration.

India had assured the UK that if the dealer were to be extradited, he would be held in a separate cell at Delhi's Tihar Jail and will be provided adequate healthcare facilities during his trial.

What Are the Cases Against Bhandari? 

The 60-year-old has been under the scanner for several cases, and is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income Tax department, and the Delhi Police.

He had been facing extradition requests from India for two cases in particular – one related to alleged money laundering and the other to tax evasion.

  • The money laundering case against him has been filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002. It pertains to property transactions allegedly liked to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's husband, Robert Vadra.

  • The tax evasion case on the other hand, pertains to the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Asset), Imposition of Tax Act 2015 and Income Tax Act 1961. The arms dealer, who was a resident in India in 2015, had allegedly withheld overseas assets, used backdated documents, and drawn benefits from assets which he did not declare to India's tax authorities.

  • In a raid at his residence in 2016, the Income Tax Department had also found confidential defence ministry documents, as per Business Standard. He had been charged under the Official Secrets Act in the case. However, he managed to escape arrest and fled to Britain in the same year.

  • The businessman had first come to the attention of central agencies in 2010 for his alleged involvement in a contract to the Indian Air Force. The CBI had filed a case against him in 2019, alleging corruption to the tune of Rs 2,895 crore in a deal for 75 Pilatus basic trainer aircrafts for the IAF.


The UK's Judge Snow had said that the case against Bhandari was prima facie valid, keeping in mind the overwhelming evidence against him.

"He failed to declare his overseas income and assets...He benefited from the income and assets that had not been declared. A reasonable jury can properly infer benefit from his undeclared income and purchase of substantial assets overseas," Snow's judgment read.

How Has Bhandari Reacted to the Allegations? 

Bhandari has denied all the allegations against him, and is likely to challenge the UK court's order approving his extradition.

His defence counsel had also argued that he should not be extradited on human rights grounds, keeping in mind the "conditions in Indian prisons." The counsel said that Bhandari could be subjected to "torture" by the police along with "non-state agents and from the prison guards" while in jail.

(With inputs from PTI and Business Insider.)

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