Mallya extradition: why so slow, UK court asks India

Vijay Mallya, the former liquor baron and co-owner of Formula One team Force India, could face further charges and a second request to extradite him from Britain to India, a London court was told on Tuesday.

Mallya's lawyer, Ben Watson, told a hearing at London's Westminster Magistrates' court on Tuesday that India was believed to be preparing a second extradition request with further separate charges.

"I don't know its contents," Watson said.

On Tuesday, the chief magistrate Emma Louise Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates' Court ruled that the full hearing will be held on 4 December.

But it could take much longer. The hearing, in fact, could be pushed back to next year in case his defence team feels it has not got all the material it needs from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is acting on behalf of the Indian government.

That didn't leave chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster magistrates' court very happy, Huffington Post reported. Disappointed with the delays in evidence arriving from the government of India, Arbuthnot asked, "Are Indians normally very prompt in their responses?"

The chief magistrate further noted, "They have taken six months so far and we haven't got any further forward in the past 6 weeks."

The comment came after Aaron Watkins, representing India, said the Crown Prosecution Service needed a further three-four weeks to receive the rest of the evidence from India and to review it.

Watkins pointed out that the material received in the case was "not insubstantial". He said that the evidence had been requested six weeks ago from the government of India. But nothing has been received so far.

The exact date of the hearing will be discussed again at "a case management hearing" on 6 July. Arbuthnot will decide then whether to stick to 4 December or push it back well into the new year.

India is seeking Mallya's extradition over unpaid loans tied to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the businessman flew off to Britain in March last year.

Mallya, the 61-year-old former boss of Kingfisher Airlines has been quite cocky in his responses. Outside the court, when a bunch of journalists questioned him, his response was - "Keep dreaming about billions of pounds.

"I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them," he said.

Banks are seeking to recover about Rs9,000 crore that the Indian authorities say Kingfisher owes.

Mallya has repeatedly dismissed the charges against him.

"I deny all allegations that have been made," he told reporters as he arrived at court. "I have enough evidence to prove my case."

Britain's extradition process can be complicated and take a long time to conclude. The judge will make a decision based on whether there is a prima facie case against Mallya and if the alleged crimes would be offences in Britain as well as India.

That ruling can be challenged in a higher court before being passed to the home secretary (interior minister) for approval. That decision can also be appealed in the courts.

Mallya, who has a base in London and a country home bought from the father of triple Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, on Friday dismissed speculation of a possible sale of his Force India team.