Business tycoon Vijay Mallya who has been living in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom while appearing for a hearing in London’s Westminister Magistrates’ court on Monday said that he fears that his life will be in danger if he returns to India. Mallya’s comment is seen to be an excuse to delay his extradition process from the country. The 61-year-old beleaguered business baron’s lawyers argued in front of the court that the former owner of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines will be under threat if he returns to India. Mallya is out on bail on an extradition warrant put in effect by the Scotland Yard earlier this year. Speaking to reporters after the pre-trial hearing where the liquor baron’s extradition hearing was confirmed for eight days starting December 4, he reiterated that he has nothing to worry as he has done no wrong and will let the evidence speak in court. The extradition hearing trial which will start from December 4 will last till December 14 with December 4 marked as non-sitting day.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is arguing the case against Mallya on behalf of the Indian authorities, had presented additional “supplemental” charges of money laundering to the previous charges of fraud at the last hearing in the case on October 3. The previous fraud charges relate to Mallya’s now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines owing more than Rs 9,000 crore to various Indian banks with State Bank of India being the biggest lender to the airliner.
Mallya fled to United Kingdom on March 2, 2016 and has been in self-imposed exile ever since. Meanwhile, the UK’s Prosecution Service said that it was technically re-filing its extradition process in the UK court as the new charges ‘superseded’ the previous ongoing case. Re-opening of the case formally for the second time has been agreed by the Chief Magistrate Louise Arbuthnot while keeping the same time-table as before. Further, she agreed to Mallya’s defence team that if evidence keeps pouring in then the December 4 trial will be in jeopardy before releasing him on the same bail conditions as before.