Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

What are Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT)

Mains level: Not Much

India and Saudi Arabia are in talks to sign a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to obtain formal assistance from each other in investigations related to criminal cases.

Why in news?

  • Saudi Arabia is only among a dozen other countries that does not have either an MLAT or any other bilateral agreement with India to facilitate such investigations.
  • India has so far signed MLATs with 45 countries, and is also in talks to finalise MLATs with Italy and Germany.

What are MLATs?

  • The MLATs in criminal matters are the bilateral treaties entered between countries for providing international cooperation and assistance.
  • These agreements allow for the exchange of evidence and information in criminal and related matters between the signing countries.

Benefits of Treaty

  • It enhances the effectiveness of participating countries in the investigation and prosecution of crime, through cooperation and mutual legal assistance.
  • It will provide a broad legal framework for tracing, restraining and confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime as well as the funds meant to finance terrorist acts.
  • It will be instrumental in gaining better inputs and insights in the modus operandi of organized criminals and terrorists.
  • These in turn can be used to fine-tune policy decisions in the field of internal security.

Enforcing MLATs in India

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the nodal Ministry and the Central authority for seeking and providing mutual legal assistance in criminal law matters.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) may be involved in this process when such requests are routed through diplomatic channels by these Ministries.
  • Section 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) speaks of reciprocal arrangements to be made by the Centre with the Foreign Governments

Why is India seeking such a treaty with Saudi?

  • In the past, Saudi Arabia has deported several terror suspects on India’s request.
  • The treat would help in getting a conviction for an accused in a court of law, based on evidence gathered through the mutual agreement.


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