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India promises video of Arthur Road jail as UK court extends Vijay Mallya’s bail

Vijay Mallya, who already suffered a legal setback in a separate case related to debt recovery brought by 13 banks, has raised four objections to his extradition from UK.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2018 19:19 IST
Prasun Sonwalker
Prasun Sonwalker
Hindustan Times, London
Vijay Mallya,Vijay Mallya extradition case,Mallya extradition from UK
Vijay Mallya arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain.(Reuters File Photo)

The Indian government on Tuesday promised to deliver a video showing facilities and other details of barrack number 12 of the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai by September 12, the next day of hearing in controversial businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition case.

Monday’s hearing was due to hear concluding statements in the case that saw several hearings since his arrest in April 2017, but was delayed and ended after a brief session due to indisposition of the chief magistrate of the Westminster Magistrates Court, Emma Arbuthnot.

Mallya’s bail was extended until September 12, when the video will be shown in court.

Outside the court, Mallya reiterated that he has been offering to settle loans with Indian banks since 2015, and mentioned his recent offer made before the Karnataka high court to settle them against his assets detailed in court papers.

The Crown Prosecution Service, representing India, submitted to the court the May 8 judgement of the commercial bench of the high court, upholding a worldwide freezing order against Mallya and the registering of a ruling of India’s Debt Recovery Tribunal in the case brought by 13 Indian banks.

Mark Summers, representing India, informed the court that Mallya’s application for permission to appeal against the May 8 judgement had also been recently dismissed by the high court.

The focus of Monday’s hearing was limited to prison conditions, which has been main reason for most of India’s extradition requests failing in British courts since the India-UK extradition treaty was signed in 1993. British courts have a duty to ensure that the person sought to be extradited will not face the risk of human rights being breached.

Seeking to allay concerns previously raised by Arbuthnot on facilities that would be available to Mallya in jail, if extradited, Summers said a further ‘sovereign assurance’ had been submitted on behalf of the Indian state, addressing various points, such as western-style toilet, water, overcrowding and bedding.

He showed a series of photographs depicting the high-security Barrack number 12 from various angles, depicting its entrance, facilities, windows and the natural light that would be available to Mallya. He said overcrowding is ruled out since its capacity is six.

“The Indian government will honour its assurances. Barrack number 12 has been recently renovated, we have provided the certificate of structural stability. Mallya will be produced in court hearings from here pre-trial, during trial, and after conviction, howsoever long that may be”, Summers said.

“There is no need for inspection”, he added.

Claire Montgomery, lawyer for Mallya, questioned some of the photographs, based on an analysis by prisons expert Alan Mitchell, and wondered if there was “manipulation” to show that natural light would be available to him. She said there would be no harm if an inspection were carried out.

The judge, however, asked for a video from the Indian government, showing “step-by-step” the various dimensions of Barack number 12, to be shot during mid-day, without artificial lighting, within three weeks.

Montgomery agreed to the video, and Summers promised to deliver it by the deadline. The judge regretted she could not carry on with the hearing for the day, but after extending Mallya’s bail until September 12, she said the video will be shown in court at the next hearing.

The hearing was attended by CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, officials of the Enforcement Directorate and the Indian high commission.

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 15:59 IST