Security Issues

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs)

  • India and Saudi Arabia are negotiating the signing of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to obtain formal assistance from each other in criminal investigations.
  • Saudi Arabia is one of only a dozen countries that lacks an MLAT or other bilateral agreement with India to facilitate such investigations.
  • India has signed MLATs with 45 countries so far and is currently negotiating MLATs with Italy and Germany.

What exactly are MLATs?

  • In criminal matters, MLATs are bilateral treaties signed by countries to provide international cooperation and assistance.
  • These treaties allow the signing countries to exchange evidence and information in criminal and related matters.

Advantages of Treaty

  • Cooperation and mutual legal assistance improve the effectiveness of participating countries in the investigation and prosecution of crime.
  • It will establish a broad legal framework for tracing, restraining, and confiscating criminal proceeds and instruments, as well as funds intended to finance terrorist acts.
  • It will be useful in gaining better inputs and insights into the tactics of organized criminals and terrorists.
  • These, in turn, can be used to fine-tune internal security policy decisions.

Enforcing MLATs in India

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the central authority for seeking and providing mutual legal assistance in criminal law matters.
  • When such requests are routed through diplomatic channels by these Ministries, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) may be involved in this process.
  • Section 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) mentions the Centre making reciprocal arrangements with foreign governments.

Why is India seeking such a treaty with Saudi?

  • Previously, Saudi Arabia deported several terror suspects at India’s request.
  • Based on evidence gathered through the mutual agreement, the treaty would aid in the conviction of an accused in a court of law. 
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