The UK has given no assurance regarding the extradition of Vijay Mallya, the embattled businessman wanted in India for charges of money laundering and defaulting on bank loans, sources said on Tuesday.
Dismissing reports about such an assurance, a source said, “We don’t have any assurance from the UK yet on the extradition request, which is a judicial process.”
The reports emerged after Indian and British officials held discussions in New Delhi on issues related to pending cases for deportation and extradition. The meeting was held weeks after India made an extradition request for liquor baron Mallya.
London-based sources told Hindustan Times that Britain is now “very positive” on India’s extradition requests, including that for Mallya. However, the sources cautioned that the actual extradition of Mallya and others “is a long way off”.
There has been only one extradition from Britain to India since a treaty was signed in September 1992 between then home minister SB Chavan and his counterpart Ken Clarke. For nearly 25 years, Indian agencies have been frustrated at not being able to secure the extradition of wanted individuals based in Britain.
The only extradition happened in October 2016, of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, 40, who was wanted in a 2002 Gujarat riots-related case. His extradition was expedited because he “consented” to it, unlike others who oppose extradition.
Mallya is being investigated for money laundering in a case of alleged default of bank loans worth around Rs 900 crore.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the two sides discussed several pending deportation cases involving Indians based in the UK. In November, India asked Britain to extradite nearly 60 people, including Mallya, so that they could face justice.
Britain also handed over to India a list of 17 people whose custody it is seeking under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or against whom Letters Rogatory have been issued.
Tiger Hanif, wanted in India in connection with the 1993 blasts in Surat, has consistently opposed extradition from the UK. He was arrested in Bolton, Greater Manchester, in March 2010 but lost all legal avenues to avoid it.
One of his pleas to prevent extradition – that he would be tortured in Indian jails – was overruled by the judge in the Westminster Magistrates Court in May 2012.
The court sent a team to Gujarat to examine jail conditions there and to assess the validity of Hanif’s plea, but the judge dismissed it and called him a “classic fugitive”.
Hanif, an aide of mob boss Dawood Ibrahim whose full name is Mohammed Umarji Patel, made a final appeal to then home secretary Theresa May, soon after the court’s judgement in May 2012. Current home secretary Amber Rudd has not yet acted on the final appeal.