Unless there is a fresh approach in London to extradition requests from New Delhi, it’s unlikely controversial Indian businessman Vijay Mallya will actually be extradited to India anytime soon, given past experiences and the long-drawn legal process.
Mallya is not the first high-profile Indian based in the United Kingdom wanted in India. Previous individuals sought include Lalit Modi (for alleged financial offences), Ravi Sankaran (the Indian Navy war room leak case), Nadeem Saifi (the Gulshan Kumar murder case) and Tiger Hanif (Gujarat blasts).
The only extradition so far – of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, wanted for the 2002 Gujarat riots – in October 2016 did not exactly reflect a fresh approach in London, though the Narendra Modi government has exerted in official talks on the issue.
Unlike other individuals wanted by India, Patel, 40, did not oppose his extradition, but “consented” to it, thus cutting short the long process. He was arrested on August 9 last year and on September 22, home secretary Amber Rudd signed the extradition order.
The reasons for his “consent” to be extradited to India, however, were not known but Indian circles were delighted at the first successful extradition from Britain since the India-UK treaty was signed in 1992.
Mallya is unlikely to “consent” to extradition, and is expected to fight it legally in British courts, which could take months, if not years. Tiger Hanif lost his legal challenge in April 2013 and has since made a final appeal to the home secretary, who is yet to decide on it.
One of the reasons earlier Indian requests for extradition did not succeed was poor paperwork and quality of evidence presented in British courts, sources told Hindustan Times. But more care was reportedly taken in the paperwork related to Mallya.
India is included in Type B of the Category 2 list of countries in Britain’s Extradition Act of 2003. A treaty between the two countries was signed in 1992 when SB Chavan was the Union home minister, and it came into effect from 1993.
The process to extradite Mallya is long, with several options for appeal. Article 5 of the treaty specifically mentions extradition may be refused if the offence is of a political character. British courts also consider whether the individual’s human rights may be violated in case she or he is returned to the requesting country.
Britain has a long and proud history of providing refuge to those fleeing political and religious persecution, but those facing financial allegations in home countries are also finding refuge in the cooler climes of Britain as the lines of those claiming “refuge” get increasingly blurred.
Nineteenth century reformer Samuel Smiles even called London “the world’s asylum, the refuge of the persecuted of all lands”.
In recent years, high-profile foreign offenders with considerable wealth have found refuge and a safe place to park their assets and enjoy a peaceful life, away from local laws of their home countries snapping at their heels – including many from Russia.