UK court to conclude Vijay Mallya extradition hearings today
31 July 2018
A UK court will conclude hearing in the Vijay Mallya extradition proceedings today, setting the stage for a possible extradition of the fugitive business man to face trial in India over fraud and money laundering charges.
A senior judge in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London will hear final submissions in the Mallya case today, but will, however, reserve judgment for a future date, reports quoted a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesperson as saying.
“The next hearing is on July 31. On that day the Senior District Judge will hear final submissions. Judgment will be reserved until a future date (to be arranged),” the CPS spokesperson said.
The case, being heard by chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot in the Westminster Magistrates Court, will also include a recommendation to the home secretary under the Extradition Act, 2003, and is likely to be delivered in September, when the court resumes after the summer recess.
Both sides will be given a chance to appeal once the court delivers its judgement.
Before making final oral submissions, both teams — the CPS team led by Mark Summers and the defence led by Claire Montgomery – were expected to file written submissions.
The case involves thousands of pages of documents, mainly related to the loans extended by IDBI and other banks to Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya’s defence has raised four objections to his extradition — absence of a prima facie case; extraneous considerations; human rights and abuse of process – which relate to alleged political witch-hunt, prison conditions breaching human rights, inability to get a fair hearing in an Indian court and lack of a case to answer.
The defence team produced several witnesses to substantiate the four objections, including alleged mistreatment and violation of human rights in the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, if extradited.
The Indian authorities have submitted a range of visual and written documentation, as well as sovereign assurances, seeking to satisfy the judge that his human rights would not be breached in the high security barrack number 12 in the jail.
Mallya’s lawyer has claimed that loans could not be returned due to genuine business failure, but failed to answer allegations of “chapters of dishonesty” on his part not only in obtaining the loans but also the dispersal of the funds for purposes contrary for which they were disbursed.
The defence lawyer also pointed out that the loans that include Rs150 crore, Rs200 crore and Rs750 crore (totalling about Rs1,000 crore), originally extended to Mallay’s Kingfisher Airlines during October and November 2009, have been blown up by adding substantial amounts as interest to make it a huge amount of Rs9,000 crore.
Mallya, meanwhile, issued a statement on 26 June, expressing frustration at the refusal of authorities in India to accept his offer to settle the bank loans for a lower amount. He has also made recent representations in Indian courts to repay the loans that 13 Indian banks seek to recover.
Mallya arrived in London on 2 March 2016 amidst allegations of financial irregularities. Subsequently, India sent an extradition request on 21 February 2017 and Mallya was held on 18 April, only to be released.
The extradition proceedings started in the Westminster Magistrates Court in June 2017. While the final hearings in the case is going on, the Mallya story is unlikely to end anytime soon.
Also, Mallya can appeal in the high court and the Supreme Court, and depending on the timing and how Brexit negotiations proceed, in the European Court of Justice, as well.
The Mallya case is significant in the context of the India-UK extradition treaty signed in 1993. Only one individual - Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel - has since been extradited from the UK, that too in a case related to the Gujarat riots.