File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Letter Rogatory: Seeking Judicial Assistance Using International Law

The phrase 'Letter Rogatory' is derived from the Latin term 'rogatorius.' In the Latin language, 'rogatorius' translates to 'related to a request' or 'related to a petitioner.' Letter Rogatory, also known as 'letter of request,' is a formal petition issued by a court in one country to a court in another country, seeking assistance in a criminal investigation or prosecution. As time passed, 'rogatorius' transformed into 'rogatory' and eventually became known as 'Letter Rogatory' in the English language.

In India, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC), the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), the Fugitive Economic Offences Act, 2018 (FEOA), and other related laws establish the procedure for sending a 'letter rogatory or letter of request' through the competent court at the request of the investigating officer.

The process for implementing a request from another court or competent authority can be found in Section 166B and 105K of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 as well as in Section 58 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. Generally, Letter Rogatory is used to request assistance with document service and obtaining evidence. It can be issued to any country based on a Bilateral Treaty/Agreement, Multilateral Treaty/Agreement, International Convention, or an Assurance of Reciprocity.

Purpose of Letter Rogatory:
There are various types of requests that India seeks and provides assistance for, which include: identifying and locating individuals and objects, gathering evidence and obtaining statements, enabling the availability of persons in custody or others as witnesses, serving court documents, conducting searches and seizures, providing information, documents, records and evidence, taking measures related to the proceeds and instruments of criminal activity, facilitating the restitution of embezzled public funds, transferring property and lending exhibits, protecting and preserving computer data, and any other assistance not prohibited by the law of the respective countries.

Language of the Request:

The language used in requesting help from a foreign country must be in English, and all accompanying documents must also be translated into the requested country's language if necessary. The translations must be certified by the translator and verified by the investigating agency to ensure accurate communication and adherence to the language requirements of the requested country.

Contents of a Letter Rogatory:
A letter rogatory typically includes specific information and requests, such as:
  • The letter should clearly identify the court or judicial authority issuing the request, including its name, jurisdiction, and contact details;
  • The letter should provide details about the ongoing legal proceeding for which assistance is sought, including the names of the parties, the nature of the case, and the specific evidence or judicial action requested;
  • The letter may refer to relevant international treaties, bilateral agreements, or domestic laws governing judicial cooperation and mutual legal assistance between the requesting and requested jurisdictions;
  • The letter may include instructions for the foreign court or authority on how to comply with the request, including any specific procedures or deadlines to be followed;
  • The letter may also contain assurances of reciprocity, indicating the willingness of the requesting court to provide similar assistance to the foreign jurisdiction in the future;
  • Summary of facts related to the case;
  • Relevant laws involved in the case;
  • Contact details for any further inquiries;
  • Purpose and type of assistance being sought;
  • Explanation of the connection between the criminal matter and the assistance requested;
  • Information about the person or property under investigation;
  • Any previous criminal history of the accused;
  • Required level of confidentiality and the reasons for it;
  • Deadline for processing the request;
  • Any additional necessary details;
  • Mandatory assurances that must be provided;
  • Specific assurances, if needed, for certain countries;
  • Costs related to the execution of the request, if applicable.

Process of Issuing and Executing a Letter Rogatory:
Issuance by the Requesting Court: The letter rogatory is typically issued by the requesting court or judicial authority, at the behest of one of the parties involved in the legal proceedings. It is drafted according to the requirements of the court and is often signed by the presiding judge or a court official.

Transmission to the Foreign Jurisdiction: After the letter rogatory has been issued, it is transmitted to the relevant authorities in the foreign jurisdiction through diplomatic channels or other established means of judicial cooperation. This may involve sending the letter directly to the foreign court or going through designated central authorities responsible for handling requests for legal assistance.

Execution by the Foreign Court or Authority: Upon receiving the letter rogatory, the foreign court or authority reviews the request and takes appropriate action to comply with it. This may include holding hearings, gathering evidence, or carrying out judicial orders as specified in the letter.

Communication of Results: Once the requested assistance has been provided, the foreign court or authority communicates the results back to the requesting court through diplomatic channels or other designated channels. This may involve transmitting relevant documents, witness statements, or other evidence obtained in response to the letter rogatory.

Procedure of Sending Letter Rogatory:
Section 166-A of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 outlines the process for initiating an overseas investigation through the issuance of a 'Letter of Request' (also known as a Letter Rogatory). This request is made in order to gather evidence and collect material objects/documents relevant to a case.

Such investigations can be conducted under various forms of international cooperation, including Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs), Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), arrangements, or reciprocity. In cases where no formal agreement exists, international conventions can also facilitate the issuance of a Letter Rogatory.

Prior consent from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, which serves as the central authority, is required for investigating agencies to issue a Letter Rogatory. The request must be accompanied by a self-contained proposal that outlines the specific details and purpose of the investigation.

This proposal should be sent to the Under Secretary (Legal) of the Internal Security Division at the MHA. In the case of state police investigations, the proposal goes through the respective State's Home Department, while for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), it goes directly to the MHA.

Before submitting a proposal to the Competent Court, careful consideration must be given to relevant treaties, MoUs, arrangements, conventions, and the legal requirements of the requested country. The proposal should clearly specify the applicable provisions in this regard. In the absence of formal agreements, a Letter Rogatory can be based on the principle of reciprocity.

Some countries may have specific requirements in terms of language or format for a Letter Rogatory. It is essential to comply with these requirements, and if necessary, assistance can be sought from the International Police Cooperation Centre (IPCC) or the CBI in New Delhi.

Central Authority for Letter Rogatory:
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in India serves as the central authority for receiving and processing requests for assistance. These requests can be made directly or through diplomatic channels and should be directed to the Under Secretary (Legal) of the Internal Security Division-II at the MHA in New Delhi. Contact can also be made via email at [email protected].

MHA's Division of Internal Security-II is responsible for managing records and data related to Mutual Legal Assistance Requests (MLAs) and Letters of Requests (LRs). The division is supported by the International Police Cooperation Cell (IPCC) within the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). IPCC can be contacted at Assistant Director, IPCC, CBI HQ, 5-B CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, with email at [email protected].

In the case of informal requests, assistance can be sought through INTERPOL channels to obtain information or leads. The Investigating Agency must contact the Assistant Director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) at the Central Bureau of Investigation, located at 5-B, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Marg, New Delhi-110003.

Limitations and Challenges:
The usage of letter rogatory, although useful, is not without its limitations and obstacles:
  • Restrictions on Time and Resources: The process of issuing and executing letter rogatory can be arduous and resource-intensive, especially in cases involving multiple jurisdictions or intricate legal proceedings.
  • Legal and Procedural Disparities: Variations in legal systems, procedures, and language barriers between jurisdictions can present difficulties in effectively carrying out letter rogatory requests.
  • Concerns over Sovereignty: Certain countries may be hesitant to comply with letter rogatory requests due to apprehensions regarding sovereignty, national security, or conflicts with domestic laws or policies.
  • Enforcement Challenges: Even if assistance is granted in response to a letter rogatory, there may be obstacles in enforcing foreign judgments or orders in the requesting jurisdiction, particularly if they contradict local laws or public policy.
The utilization of letter rogatory plays a crucial role in promoting judicial cooperation and mutual legal assistance among jurisdictions, allowing courts to acquire evidence and carry out necessary judicial actions for the resolution of legal cases. Despite potential difficulties in issuing and executing letter rogatory requests, its significance in aiding cross-border legal proceedings and upholding the fair administration of justice cannot be underestimated. Successful utilization of letter rogatory necessitates effective legal and diplomatic coordination to ensure compliance with international law and treaties. The evidence gathered by foreign authorities is integrated into Indian investigations, strengthening the case against the accused. Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly