No prima facie case to justify extradition, insists Mallya
Mallya’s lawyer, Claire Montgomery, challenged several aspects of the magistrates court’s ruling by judge Emma Arbuthnot, arguing that there are “multiple errors” of fact and understanding of documents in her judgement.Updated: Feb 11, 2020 19:52 IST
Controversial businessman Vijay Mallya’s defence team on Tuesday insisted in the high court of England and Wales that there is no prima facie case against him in India to justify his extradition, as sought by the government of India to face charges of major financial offences.
Justice Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing began a three-day appeal hearing against the Westminster magistrates court’s 2018 ruling that confirmed there is a case for Mallya to answer in relation to loans taken from IDBI in 2009, and had cleared his extradition.
Mallya’s lawyer, Claire Montgomery, challenged several aspects of the magistrates court’s ruling by judge Emma Arbuthnot, arguing that there are “multiple errors” of fact and understanding of documents in her judgement.
Tuesday was allocated for Montgomery’s submission, to be responded to by the Crown Prosecution Service lawyer on behalf of India, Mark Summers, on Wednesday. A ruling is expected on Thursday.
According to Montgomery, the ruling by Arbuthnot is “flawed”, because she allegedly failed to consider all evidence. Moreover, she argued that the lower court’s judgement was replete with misconceptions and misunderstandings of documents submitted by India against Mallya.
These, Montgomery submitted, related to figures mentioned in accounts of Kingfisher Airlines submitted as part of loan applications, as well as the admissibility of witness statements in the prosecution case. Arbuthnot “missed things” that would have altered her judgement, she contended.
The defence’s argument remains that Mallya’s failure to repay loans was not due to an alleged conspiracy to defraud but due to “business failure and economic misfortune” that affected the aviation industry at the time.
“Dr Mallya is not a fly-by-night operator,” Montgomery told the judges, as a team of Indian officials from New Delhi and London watched the proceedings in the court.
Under the UK’s extradition law, a prima facie case needs to be established before a decision can be taken to extradite the requested person.
The high court had allowed the appeal on the ground of prima facie case, but rejected others such as risk to his human rights in the Arthur Road jail, inability to get a fair trial in India, the claim that he is being punished for his political opinions, and that there would be a ‘breach of specialty’ if he were sent to India.
Under the India-UK extradition treaty, ‘specialty’ is a rule that the person sought will be tried only for those offences mentioned in the extradition request and not for others.
Montgomery had argued that there would be a ‘breach of specialty’ if he is extradited, because over 40 cases are ongoing against him in India, many with non-bailable warrants. There is no assurance from New Delhi that the other cases would be dropped if he is extradited, she had argued.
Mallya has been on bail since his arrest in London in April 2017.