On 2 July 2019, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot, the Chief Magistrate, handed down her judgment at Westminster Magistrates’ Court refusing the extradition of Arti Dhir and Kaval Raijada. Indian authorities have requested the extradition of Mrs Dhir and Mr Raijada for the alleged murder of their adopted son, Gopal Sejani, and Mr Raijada’s brother-in- law, Harsukhbhai Kardani.
The Indian authorities allege that Mrs Dhir and Mr Raijada adopted the orphan, insured his life and in February 2017, they paid for him to be murdered. Gopal Sejani allegedly was kidnapped and then stabbed to death. Mr Kardani is said to have intervened in the kidnapping and was subsequently stabbed. He died a few days later in a hospital in India. The Indian authorities believe that Mrs Dhir, Mr Raijada and his father, Nitish Mund all conspired to murder Gopal Sejani.
In her ruling, Judge Arbuthnot found a prima facie case that Mrs Dhir and Mr Raijada acted together to murder their alleged victims. However, she discharged the case on the grounds that Mrs Dhir and Mr Raijada’s potential sentence for the two murders in India would be an irreducible life sentence and thus would create a real risk that they will be subject to inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Indian authorities had provided assurances that Mrs Dhir and Mr Raijada would not face the death penalty if they were extradited to India to face trial for the murders, however the assurances were provided later than the deadline provided by the court. Despite that assurance, Judge Arbuthnot ruled the irreducible nature of the likely sentence would breach Article 3. However, she did add that if Gujarat were to review its laws on the sentencing of multiple murders, to allow provision for a review of life sentences then the law would comply with Article 3 and the couple could be extradited in future.