Indian investigators are preparing to answer questions about how the country will protect the human rights of Vijay Mallya during hearings on the beleaguered business tycoon’s extradition in a London court later this month.
Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate are in United Kingdom to press for the 61-year-old flamboyant businessman to be sent back to India, where he owes banks Rs 9,000 crores.
The extradition process involves a complex legal procedure in which India will need to convince that certain conditions on how it treats, and sentences, Mallya will be met. Among them is his “human rights”, that his counsel’s could argue would be in jeopardy in Indian prisons.
Initial discussions between the Indian officials and British prosecutors will centre around establishing Mallya’s alleged dual criminality — that what he did is a crime in both countries. This is the most important part of the process, and likely to consume the most time.
The CBI has indicted Mallya on charges of fraud and conspiracy, both criminal offences under British law.
Sources in the agencies privy to the extradition case said that the key strategies that could be deployed by Mallya’s counsel will include convincing the UK courts that his offence is not criminal but civil in nature.
They also believe his counsel will likely plead with UK courts that the cases against him are due to political vendetta, since he was nominated to Parliament during the Congress-led regime.
But the condition of Indian prisons will eventually come up. And in recent past, two of India’s extradition requests have been denied after defence lawyers argued they will violate their client’s rights.
India’s prisons are beset by several problems. A 2015 report by the National Crime Records Bureau said the total number of prisoners as on December 31 2015 stood at 419,623 — higher than their capacity to hold 366,781.
The jails are also short-staffed, with one official available to take care of eight inmates on an average, the report said.
“There have been at least two instances in the past few years where extradition was refused based on jail conditions in India. One was the Purlia Arms drop case where India had sought extradition of Kim Davy from Denmark, and the other one was in the Naval War Room leak case in which accused Ravi Shankaran’s extradition was requested from UK,” a source said.
Other conditions European courts usually consider before signing off on extradition requests include the capital punishment being out of the picture and the sentence length being between 1 and 7 years.
Agency officials however seem to be hopeful of Mallya’s extradition, given many high profile accused have either spent time in Indian prisons or are currently lodged in jails.
Mallya was arrested on April 18, and given bail, in London where a court set May 17 for the hearing on the extradition appeal.