Featured

Extradition Battle Looms After Mallya is Arrested in London on India’s Request

The extradition process of the liquor baron from the UK, who owes Indian banks over Rs 9,000 crore, will begin now that he has been produced in a UK court and granted bail.

Vijay Mallya was the owner of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, which owes over Rs 9000 crore in loans to banks. Credit: PTI

Vijay Mallya was the owner of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, which owes over Rs 9000 crore in loans to banks. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: UK’s Metropolitan Police Service on Tuesday arrested Liquor baron Vijay Mallya based on the extradition request made by India. He was granted bail a few hours later, according to Reuters.

According to the Metropolitan Police website, the 61-year-old industrialist will appear before Westminster magistrate’s court later on Tuesday:

Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Extradition Unit have this morning, Tuesday 18 April arrested a man on an extradition warrant.

Vijay Mallya, 61 (18/12/1955), was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud.

He was arrested after attending a central London police station, and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court later today, 18 April.

Earlier this year, the UK government had told New Delhi that the wheels have started rolling to meet the Indian request for Mallya’s extradition. Mallya was declared a proclaimed offender for his role in a loan default of over Rs 9,000 crore. He left India in March 2016, one day before the government moved to cancel his passport.

“The UK home department on February 21 conveyed that the request of India for extradition of Mallya has been certified by the secretary of state and sent to the Westminster magistrate’s court for a district judge to consider the issue of releasing of warrant,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said last month.

India handed over a formal note verbale seeking extradition on February 8 to the British high commission. A CBI court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Mallya in a Rs 720-crore IDBI loan default case in January.

New Delhi had told London that it had a “legitimate” case against Mallya and asserted that if an extradition request is honoured, it would show British “sensitivity towards our concerns”.

Mallya’s preliminary hearing before the Westminster magistrate’s court will be followed by an extradition hearing. The final decision will be taken by the secretary of state.

Mallya will have the right to appeal to higher courts against any decision till the apex court.

Mallya, meanwhile, tweeted that this was all “routine”.

Union minister of state for finance Santosh Gangwar told ANI that Mallya will be brought back to India and due process followed.

In Delhi, Gopal Baglay confirmed that Mallya’s arrest had been “in connection with the request by the government to UK authorities for his extradition”. “Legal process in this regard is underway in the UK. The two governments are in touch in this context,” he said.

Tough fight ahead

India has not had much luck in extradition cases in the United Kingdom with prominent refusals including Nadeem Saifi, Lalit Modi and Ravi Shankaran, wanted for the Navy War Room leak.

India’s request for former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi‘s extradition was denied by the British courts after Modi argued that he was being unfairly persecuted as part of a political vendetta and that the Indian courts would not give him a fair hearing. One of the documents he submitted as part of this argument was a statement from Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje broadly endorsing his allegations against the Indian law enforcement system.

Article 9 of the the Indo-UK Extradition Treaty specifies four grounds for refusal of extradition. These are if the person to be extradited satisfies the requested country:

  • That the request was a facade for persecution of the person concerned on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion;
  • That prejudice will be caused to his trial or that he is likely to be punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty, by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion;
  • That “it would, having regard to all the circumstances, be unjust or oppressive to extradite him” by reason of –
    • the trivial nature of the offence,
    • long delay in making the request, or
    • “the accusation against him not having been made in good faith in the interests of justice” (This was the ground on which Bolywood Music Director Nadeem Akhtar Saifi’s extradition was denied by the British House of Lords in 2000.); or
  • That the offence is a military offence, and “not an offence under general criminal law”.

Lalit Modi’s backers included Sushma Swaraj, external affairs minister.