A note on relations between India and Denmark on the official website of the Indian embassy in Copenhagen reads: “Between July 2010 and 2016, India’s relations with Denmark were affected by the extradition case of Kim Davy and there was minimal official contact between the two parties, which negatively affected trade and economic relations and cooperation in multilateral fora … it was decided to review our relations and allow ministerial visits and official contacts between India and Denmark at the end of 2016 .. . ”Official statistics do not show a large increase in India-Denmark trade and economic activity after 2016. Two-way trade in goods was $ 1 billion in 2009-10, $ 1.1 billion in 2015-16 and $ 1.3 billion in 2020-21. These statistics question the embassy’s assessment of the commercial impact of Indian politics in 2010-2016.
Ties between India and Denmark have grown increasingly vigorous in the past five years. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s state visit to India this month is part of this strength. But, during the same period, India has effectively given up on extraditing Kim Davy. This goes against the guarantee offered in 2016 that the extradition of the confessed offender will be purposely pursued.
After Frederiksen’s visit, Secretary (West) Reenat Sandhu was asked several questions about Davy’s extradition. His response, “… this matter was raised and we understand that the legal process must go ahead and both countries are working on it”, says it all. It is significant that it is not mentioned in the joint India-Denmark statement on the visit.
In his speech at the joint press meeting after his conversations with Frederiksen on October 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also failed to mention that India wanted Davy to be extradited. Modi referred to the “democratic values” and the “belief in a rule-based order” that the two countries shared. However, the case of Kim Davy clearly shows Denmark’s contempt for the institutions of Indian democracy.
Kim Davy has publicly acknowledged his role in the 1996 Purulia arms handover. India requested his extradition. Denmark delayed and sought assurances that he would not face the death penalty, that he would be safe in jail during the trial and would be allowed to serve his sentence, if convicted, in Denmark. The Danes did not ask for these guarantees all at once. They initially asked for a game. These were delivered with the approval of the Cabinet. Thereafter, they asked for another game. This was provocative, but the Cabinet considered the second game as well and approved that it be handed over to Denmark.
These “sovereign guarantees” mark the highest commitment that one country gives to another. The Danish government took a long time to pass an extradition order for Davy. They only did so in 2010. Davy appealed to a court against the extradition order. In such matters, while it is up to the foreign government to defend its order in court, it invariably has the assistance of Indian investigative agencies. The IWC sent a team to Copenhagen, but lawyers for the Danish government practically kept them at arm’s length.
The Danish court did not take India’s sovereign guarantees seriously. Instead, he chose to rely on the testimony of NGOs, who stated that Davy was unlikely to receive justice in Indian courts and that he would not be safe in Indian custody. His disregard for Indian guarantees and his attitude towards the Indian judiciary was deeply insulting. The court confirmed Davy’s request and blocked his extradition. The High Court of Denmark approved the decision of the first court. At this stage, the Danish authorities informed India that its prosecutors had decided not to appeal the High Court decision to the country’s Supreme Court. This was ridiculous. The protests of the Indians were ignored.
The implication of the behavior of the Danish system was clear. He simply did not show any respect for India, its institutions and his word. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with other interested departments and agencies, decided that Danish behavior was completely unacceptable. In its July 8, 2011 statement, the MEA noted that the sentence would encourage “terrorists and criminals.” It also rejected “the reasons invoked by the Danish court as the basis for its decision”.
It can be argued that countries must move forward to ensure their interests. The great powers absorb the loss of life and accept the humiliation of military defeat, as the United States has done in Afghanistan. So does it really matter that India has practically decided to give up trying to bring Kim Davy to justice? The answer is yes. Because if a government seeks Indian commitments not once but twice and the Indian state gives guarantees, can it allow its word to be treated with disdain and the courts of a foreign country to give credence to the claims of NGOs? This is the point of principle that the government and the political, legal and even strategic classes of India must ask themselves.
Denmark cannot be allowed to hide behind its judicial system. A European country tried to do it, but in the face of Indian firmness, it found a way to deal with its courts. He only asked that the matter be kept confidential. That prevents this writer from revealing more. All countries know how to run their courts when foreign relations are involved. Denmark is no exception, although it would like to project that it is.
India may continue relations with Denmark, but shouldn’t it make it clear that, despite his invitation, the visit of a Danish monarch can only take place if Davy is extradited and faces justice in India? Perhaps, the opinions expressed and the questions raised by this writer about the value of the Indian word are archaic in these new times. But shouldn’t this at least be publicly debated?
The writer is a former diplomat
"खाना विशेषज्ञ। जोम्बी प्रेमी। अति कफी अधिवक्ता। बियर ट्रेलब्लाजर। अप्रिय यात्रा फ्यान।"