Couple accused of adopted son's murder avoid extradition

By Poonam Taneja
BBC Asian Network

Published
image captionArti Dhir and Kaval Raijada deny arranging to have Gopal Sejani killed for an insurance pay-out

A London couple accused of arranging the murder of their adopted son will not be extradited to India.

Arti Dhir, 55 and her husband Kaval Raijada, 30, deny arranging to have 11-year old Gopal Sejani killed for an insurance pay-out in 2017.

The pair, from Hanwell, travelled to Gujarat to adopt Gopal in 2015, promising him a better life in London.

High Court judges upheld an earlier decision to reject their extradition on human rights grounds.

The couple placed an advert in a local newspaper, promising they would take an adopted child to live in London, the court heard.

They then met Gopal, a farm boy who was living with his older sister and her husband.

Indian police claim Ms Dhir and Mr Raijada - who had no children of their own - had other plans than re-homing Gopal.

image copyrightHanif Khokhar/BBC
image captionGopal Sejani was murdered by a gang on motorbikes

The court heard Ms Dhir took out an insurance policy worth approximately £150,000 in Gopal's name which would pay out after 10 years, or in the event of his death.

On 8 February 2017, Gopal was abducted by two men on motorbikes, stabbed and left by a road in Gujarat.

His brother-in-law, Harsukh Kardani, was also attacked as he tried to defend the boy. Both died of their injuries in hospital later that month.

media captionAsian Network reporter Poonam Taneja asks Arti Dhir about the murder of her adopted son

Ms Dhir and Mr Raijada, who face six charges in India including conspiracy to murder and kidnapping, were arrested in the UK in June 2017 after a request from the Indian government.

An Indian government appeal against this decision was dismissed by the High Court on Thursday.

Judges said the extradition would have been contrary to the couple's human rights under UK law as the penalty for double murder in Gujarat is life in prison without parole.

Delays on the part of the Indian government to provide required human rights assurances were at the heart of the appeal.

Lord Justice James Dingemans and Justice Robin Spencer said that "further extradition proceedings might also be brought if an adequate assurance is provided showing that an irreducible life sentence will not be imposed on Ms Dhir or Mr Raijada".

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