Govt issues revised norms for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with other nations

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News:Government has revised guidelines for seeking assistance from foreign countries under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty(MLAT).

Facts:

About the guidelines:

  • These guidelines were made in the backdrop of complaints against the bureaucratic delays in the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) on MLAT issues.
  • The guidelines have provisions for service of documents to authorities of foreign country preferably within ten days of receipt of request in respect of offences committed against women and children.

About Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty(MLAT):

  • A mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) is an agreement between two or more countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws.
  • MLATs can be bilateral (country to country), multilateral, regional (any regional grouping example ASEAN) and country to regional (India with all the countries of European Union).
  • This assistance may take the form of (a)examining and identifying people (b)places and things (c)custodial transfers and (d)providing assistance with the immobilisation of the instruments of criminal activity.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the nodal Ministry and the Central authority for seeking and providing mutual legal assistance in criminal law matters.
  • Currently,India has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties(MLAT) with 42 countries and is signatory to various International Conventions for cooperation in criminal matters.