The guidelines come against the backdrop of complaints from agencies of bureaucratic delays in the MHA on MLAT issues.
The next time an agency approaches the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for assistance from a foreign country with regard to a crime against women and children, its request would be sent abroad within 10 days of receipt.
The MHA has revised guidelines for seeking assistance from foreign countries through letters rogatory and under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).
According to the new guidelines, “The IS-II Divisions (now known as just the Internal Security division), MHA, shall make endeavours to transmit summons/notices/judicial pro-cess in cases relating to serious crimes against women and children to the Requested country preferably within ten working days. It is, however, clarified that the MHA cannot quantify the time period taken by the Requested Country to serve such summons/notices/judicial pro-cesses on the witness.”
The guidelines come against the backdrop of complaints from agencies of bureaucratic delays in the MHA on MLAT issues. Since these matters take a long time, agencies were of the view that unnecessary delays on the part of Indian authorities was delaying probes inordinately.
All central or state police agencies send MLAT requests to the IS-II division which examines the request and documents attached and based on questions raised and clarifications provided, approves or rejects it. After approval, the MHA sends the request to the foreign country concerned.
An official statement said India has signed Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties with 42 countries.
The revised guidelines provide step-by-step guidance to investigation agencies for drafting and processing letters rogatory or mutual legal assistance requests and service of summons, notices and other judicial documents.