In a bizarre twist to a protracted case that has seen surprising assertions, the lawyer representing hit-run driver Puneet Puneet has told a court in the Indian capital that Australia wants to have him extradited for 'political reasons'.
Kanhaiya Kumar Singhal told the court in New Delhi on Saturday the demand was 'political' in nature rather than 'judicial' and was being made because Australian politicians were eager to benefit from having Puneet extradited.
"This extradition is being called for only for political reasons and to give benefit to Victoria's politicians. Puneet is being targeted for this reason and this reason alone," Singhal said.
Puneet is fighting extradition to Australia where he faces sentencing for a fatal hit-run in Melbourne in 2008.
Singhal's main contention as he began his final arguments was that India's extradition law requires that the crime of the accused should be punishable with a jail term of one year in both countries and that this case failed to fulfill that criterion.
It's an argument that the prosecution counsel has strongly contested in earlier hearings.
After pointing out that Puneet had served two years in a New Delhi jail, Singhal went on to make his other main point that various documents had not been properly 'authenticated' as required under the extradition law.
Puneet fled to India to avoid being sentenced in Australia.
He was a 19-year-old learner driver when he killed Queensland student Dean Hofstee, aged 19, and seriously injured Clancy Coker in 2008.
Puneet smashed into them after drinking and driving at high speed in Melbourne.
He was on bail and awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to culpable driving when he fled Australia in 2009 using a friend's passport. He was arrested four years later in India, on his wedding day.
In court, Singhal has made various claims against his client's extradition.
They include arguing that Puneet is mentally ill, that he suffers from kidney and liver ailments and that he once swallowed pesticide in a suicide attempt.
The hearing was adjourned till March 14.
Australian Associated Press