Consular, Passport and Visa Division

Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

Q: Who is the central authority in India handling requests for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters?

As per the Allocation of Business Rules of the Government of India, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal Ministry and the Central authority for seeking and providing mutual legal assistance in criminal law matters. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) receives all such requests, examines them and takes appropriate action. (Internal Security-II (IS-II) Division handles this subject in the Ministry of Home Affairs.)The Ministry of External Affairs may be involved in this process when such requests are routed through diplomatic channels by these Ministries.

Q: What is the procedure for serving Summons issued by an Indian Court on a person living abroad?

Section 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) speaks of reciprocal arrangements to be made by Central Government with the Foreign Governments with regard to the service of summons/warrants/judicial processes. Accordingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has entered into Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties/Agreements on Criminal Matters with 39 countries which provide for serving of documents.

List of countries with operational Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties in Criminal Matters:

For an updated list, please refer to the website of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

In other cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs makes a request on the basis of an assurance of reciprocity to the concerned foreign government through MEA or our Mission/Embassy in that country.

The difference between the two categories of countries is that the country having an MLAT with India has an obligation to consider serving the documents, whereas the non-MLAT countries do not have any obligation to consider such a request.

For further details, consult the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs: (

Q: What is the procedure to be followed for serving (bailable and non-bailable) arrest warrants issued by Indian Courts on a person living abroad ?

The summons/warrants/judicial processes received by MHA are forwarded to the concerned Indian Mission/ Embassy, which in turn takes up the matter with the designated Central Authority in that country. In case of MLAT countries, the manner of communication is as laid down in the MLAT and can be either directly between MHA and the Central Authority or through diplomatic channels. The Designated Authority, after considering the request, directs its agency to serve the documents on the concerned person and the report of the service, if any, is also received through the same channel. This is broadly the system in most countries. However, in some countries, private companies/NGOs have also been entrusted with the service of judicial papers.

In India, all requests for service of summons/notices/judicial processes on persons residing abroad should be addressed to the Under Secretary (Legal), IS-II Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, 9th Floor, LokNayakBhawan, New Delhi – 110003.

For further details, consult the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs:

Q: Is it possible to serve non-bailable warrants of arrest issued by an Indian Court on a person living abroad?

The Ministry of Home Affairs does not undertake service of non-bailable warrants of arrest. The service of non-bailable arrest warrants amounts to the extradition of the individual. Requests for extradition are based on legal principles and procedures contained in Extradition Treaties negotiated with the foreign country concerned. Such requests are to be forwarded in the prescribed format to the Ministry of External Affairs, CPV Division, Patiala House Annexe, TilakMarg, New Delhi – 110001.