Vijay Mallya extradition case in closing stage in London court
Unlike previous extradition cases that progressed through the courts over years and were eventually unsuccessful, Indian officials are delighted that the Vijay Mallya case has moved swiftly from the initial request.
London: India’s request to the UK to extradite businessman Vijay Mallya to face charges related to financial misconduct has reached its closing stage in the Westminster Magistrates Court, which is due to rule on the admissibility of some key documents on Friday.
Unlike previous extradition cases that progressed through the courts over years and were eventually unsuccessful, Indian officials are delighted that the Mallya case has moved swiftly from the initial request, made on February 17, 2017, his arrest on April 18, 2017 and the likely conclusion now.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Theresa May discussed extradition cases of individuals sought by both countries during the former’s visit to London earlier this month, with Modi mainly mentioning those of economic offenders such as Mallya.
Mallya, a flamboyant businessman who once ran a thriving conglomerate, faces charges of financial misconduct amounting to nearly Rs 9,000 crore in debt owed to Indian banks by his defunct airline Kingfisher. He and his lawyer, Claire Montgomery, have stated during the series of court hearings that he has always been willing to reach a settlement with creditors.
He flew out of India to the UK on March 2, 2016, days before a debt court in Bengaluru ruled against him.
Extradition is a legal process under a 1993 treaty between the two countries. As May said in the House of Commons during Modi’s visit: “There are a number of issues of extradition between the two countries...We raise a number of cases with the Indian Government, as I did this morning. It is important that we recognise the independence of the judiciary in both countries”.
On Friday, chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who has described the Mallya case as a ‘jigsaw puzzle’, will give a ruling on the admissibility of over 150 pages of documents submitted by Indian agencies, setting out bank officials’ statements on loans to Mallya.
She is also expected to announce a date for delivering the judgement. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said the judgement is likely in May. Both sides – Indian agencies and Mallya – will have the option of appealing against the judgement.
India’s case, presented in court by CPS lawyer Mark Summers, has focused on what he called Mallya’s “chapters of dishonesty”, while Montgomery has refuted the charges, claiming that his inability to repay loans was linked to business failures rather than dishonesty.
The series of hearings attended by Indian officials from New Delhi and London have seen intense focus on India’s legal and prisons system, news media and politics. The defence has produced individuals who it said were experts in Indian law, politics and the prisons system.
India has submitted detailed information on the conditions in barrack number 12 in the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, where Mallya is to be lodged, if extradited. These include details of natural light available, personal space, medical assistance, water and food.
Mallya, who has been on bail since his arrest in April last year, was exempted from appearing in person by the judge, but has attended most of the hearings. His latest bail extension is until Friday, which is expected to be the last hearing in the case.