Reprieve for Vijay Mallya as UK court allows extradition appeal
Controversial businessman Vijay Mallya was handed a lifeline by the England and Wales high court on Tuesday when it permitted him to appeal against the February 3 order of home secretary Sajid Javid to extradite him to India.Updated: Jul 03, 2019 06:26 IST
Controversial businessman Vijay Mallya was handed a lifeline by the England and Wales high court on Tuesday when it permitted him to appeal against the February 3 order of home secretary Sajid Javid to extradite him to India.
Facing charges of financial offences running into over Rs 9,000 crore, Mallya, who lost in the Westminster Magistrates Court after a year-long trial in December 2018, will now not be immediately extradited but will be able to mount further legal challenges in the high court.
Justice Leggatt and Justice Popplewell rejected four grounds put forth by Mallya’s defence team but upheld one that questioned the magistrates court’s findings on alleged misrepresentation by Mallya and his companies in securing loans from IDBI.
The lower court had upheld India’s charges, but Justice Leggatt said: “We have been persuaded that there is a reasonably arguable case against the approach of the chief judge (of the magistrates court) on whether there is a prima facie case”.
He said in his ruling that the charge of misrepresentation “is not what has been alleged in the extradition request…it is arguable that the findings of the chief judge (Emma Arbuthnot) are based on a misreading of evidence.”
Justice Leggatt rejected other grounds such as risk to human rights in the Arthur Road jail, inability to get a fair trial in India, Mallya’s claim that he is being punished for his opinions, and that there would be a ‘breach of specialty’ if he were sent to India.
Mallya, who attended the hearing with his son Siddhartha Mallya and partner Pinki Lalwani, said after the ruling: “I always said there is no prima facie case against me. I am still ready to return the money to the bank”.
“Airline business is fragile. Every time an airline fails, the promoter is cornered, punished. It is not a good policy of the government. Who thought Jet will collapse.”
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.
Mallya’s lawyer, Claire Montgomery, argued that there would be a ‘breach of specialty’ because over 40 case 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 said.
She also argued that India had submitted a fraction of relevant paperwork, adding that if the full material were submitted, the magistrates court would not have reached the conclusions it did. India, she alleged, chose not to submit annexures included in loan applications that had details of Kingfisher Airlines .
Montgomery reiterated the principal claim made previously in the magistrates court, that Mallya’s inability to repay the loans was a result of business failure, and not due to dishonesty or conspiracy to defraud banks.
“There is no justification for her assertions (in the judgement) about misrepresentations about the financial position of the company. The charge of misrepresentation is unsubstantiated in the ruling”, she asserted.