A select team of senior officials from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are stationed in London where they are holding talks with British prosecutors pursing the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya.
The team is headed by CBI additional director Rakesh Asthana.
Sources privy to Mallya’s case said while the investigating agencies are coordinating with their counterparts in the UK, the liquor baron’s extradition will also be discussed during talks between home secretaries Rajiv Mehrishi and Amber Rudd, who are to visit India later this week.
Sources said the talks, both in London and in Delhi, are part of a two-fold strategy formulated based on the possibility that Mallya might seek a political plea to halt his possible extradition.
The agencies are anticipating that Mallya’s counsel might tell the UK courts that his is a case of political vendetta as he was an MP during the Congress-led regime.
Agency officials said Mallya might argue that his case was rather a civil offence and not a criminal one as impressed upon by Indian investigation agencies.
“We are anticipating that a person of Mallya’s stature will employ all means to avoid extradition. Both the CBI and ED have been coordinating with each other and with the prosecutors in London since Mallya was arrested last month. Besides , the agencies are briefing authorities at the highest level to plug loopholes that can be used by him,” a government official told HT.
He added, “The home secretary-level talks will ensure the UK government is on board with Indian authorities. ”
A senior official of the ED elaborated on the basic requirements which the Indian authorities need to fulfill to make Mallya’s extradition possible.
“The most important requirement is to prove dual criminality. The provisions under which he is booked in India are similar to those in the UK, so it should not be that difficult. The other requirements include that the alleged crime conduced by Mallya should not attract capital punishment and the prison time in India should be between 1 to 7 years. As we know, cases of fraud do not attract capital punishment in India,” the ED official said.