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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

UK court to give verdict on Vijay Mallya’s extradition case on December 10

India wants to extradite Vijay Mallya to face action in the loan default case in connection with his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2018 23:32 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Vijay Mallya stands outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Vijay Mallya stands outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville(REUTERS)

The judgment on India’s request to extradite businessman Vijay Mallya to face charges of financial offences running into thousands of crores will be delivered on December 10, the Westminster magistrates court said on Wednesday, even as the fugitive Indian billionaire set off a political storm back home by saying he had met finance minister Arun Jaitley just before fleeing to London, and offered to settle his debts.

Mallya, who arrived in London in March 2016 and was arrested in April 2017, was present in court as his legal team and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting on India’s behalf, reiterated and substantiated points made at earlier hearings on loans from IDBI Bank. Mallya’s bail was extended till December 10.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley dismissed Mallya’s remarks. In a statement, Jaitley said he had never given an appointment since 2014 to Mallya, who “misused” his privilege as a member of Rajya Sabha by trying to talk to him about an offer of settlement.

Jaitley said Mallya “occasionally attended the House” and misused “that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room”.

The statement added, “He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that ‘I am making an offer of settlement’. Having been fully briefed about his earlier ‘bluff offers’, without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him, ‘there was no point talking to me’ and he must make offers to his bankers.”

The minister said “the question of (Mallya) having met me does not arise” and that he had not received “the papers that (Mallya) was holding in his hand”. He added, “Besides this one sentence exchange where he misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha member, in order to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, there is no question of my having ever given him an appointment to meet me.”

Mallya also subsequently clarified and described the episode as an “unnecessary controversy” as there was no formal meeting between the two.

“This is a totally unnecessary controversy created by friends in the media. I met Mr Jaitley in Parliament and told him I was leaving for London, that I want to settle loans and would he facilitate. Mr Jaitley did not say anything,” Mallya said.

The Congress party was quick to ask the government to clarify on the allegations. “Given Vijay Mallya’s extremely serious allegations in London today, the PM should immediately order an independent probe into the matter. Arun Jaitley should step down as Finance Minister while this probe is underway,” said Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Asked by reporters if he had met other BJP leaders before leaving India, Mallya said: “Over a period of time, I met many colleagues (in Parliament) and expressed my desire to settle with banks.”

In court, Mallya’s legal team and the CPS presented concluding arguments, reiterating points and objections made at earlier hearings.

The hearing began with television screens in the courtroom switched on to show a video submitted by India of conditions at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, where Mallya is to be held if extradited. Judge Emma Arbuthnot said she had seen the video three times and did not direct court officials to show it.

Mallya said outside the court: “We have argued our case, they have argued theirs. It is up to the judge to decide.” Under UK rules related to extradition, the judge does not need to establish criminality of the person sought, but has to decide on the basis of evidence presented whether there is a prima facie case to answer in the requesting country.

Mallya’s team argued there is no prima facie case, while India presented thousands of pages of documents to substantiate charges of dishonesty and misrepresentation to obtain loans from IDBI, and disbursal of monies for purposes unintended.

First Published: Sep 12, 2018 20:04 IST

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