India, UK ink pacts on illegal migrants' return, sharing intel
London: India and the UK have signed two agreements on return of Indians, who are living in Britain as illegal migrants, and sharing criminal records and intelligence.
The development comes close on heels of India seeking UK's help in early extradition of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya from Britain to face the law at home in connection with cases of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores.
The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed by UK's Minister of Immigration Caroline Nokes and India's Minister of Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Thursday.
The new deals reflect increased co-operation between the two countries, which already enjoy a close relationship, according to a British government release issued here today.
"The MoU on criminal records exchange will lead to British and Indian law enforcement bodies sharing criminal records information, fingerprints and intelligence," the statement said.
This will assist the police in protecting the public from known criminals, including sex offenders and also allow the courts in both countries to access more information to support tougher sentencing decisions.
The agreement on returns paves the way for a quicker and more efficient process for documenting and returning Indian nationals who have no right to be in the UK to India, it said.
This has proven difficult in the past due to some Indians not having the required paperwork or travel documentation for them to be accepted back in their home country.
The official release added that the agreement commits both countries to taking a more flexible approach to verifying the identity and nationality of individuals, which will help speed up the returns process.
"I was very pleased to welcome the Indian Home Affairs Minister to the UK. The agreements we've signed cover the important issues of returns and criminal records exchanges to the mutual benefit of both countries," Nokes said.
"The minister's (Rijiju's) visit forms part of our ongoing dialogue and demonstrates the strong and positive relationship between our two nations," she was quoted as saying in the statement.
"As my predecessor in this role noted during his visit to India last November, we are determined to create a 'living bridge' of people, ideas, institutions and technology between our two great countries. These new agreements are yet another example of the value we place on our strong partnership."
Details of the types of information exchanged through the MoUs and operational procedures, together with the details of any restrictions on using or disclosing the information will be the subject of further negotiations, the statement said.
The documents recognise the need to respect privacy, civil liberties and human rights.
Rijiju was on a London visit at the invitation of Nokes' predecessor, Brandon Lewis, following their successful meeting in India in November 2017.
In addition to formalising the two agreements, Rijiju also visited the Heathrow Airport to see first-hand how Border Force, a law enforcement command within the Home Office, uses technology such as biometrics and e-passport gates.