The Home Ministry today forwarded to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) a court-issued request to bring back embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya from the United Kingdom to India to face money laundering probe. In a communication to the MEA, the Home Ministry has provided it details of the Mumbai special court order which approved the Enforcement Directorate’s request to invoke the India-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to bring back Mallya to the country. The External Affairs Ministry has been requested to forward the communication to the authorities in the UK to extradite Mallya to India, official sources said.
The Mumbai special court, which is entrusted with hearing cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), had last fortnight approved the ED’s request to issue an order against Mallya under the India-UK treaty. The court approved ED’s request on the basis of the agency’s investigation and attachment of assets in the criminal case where Mallya and his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) are alleged to have defrauded IDBI Bank to the tune of about Rs 900 crore.
The move is a fresh blow to the beleaguered businessman as India, through the External Affairs Ministry, recently handed over to the UK an extradition request against Mallya, based on a CBI case in the same offence. The CBI too is probing this alleged loan default case under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. Besides the request under MLAT, the ED has also appended in the dossier the Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) issued by the special court last year.
The 1992 India-UK MLAT has a clause through which the treaty can be invoked in a criminal probe seeking the “transfer of persons, including persons in custody, for the purpose of assisting in investigations or giving evidence” and it is understood that the ED considers this step a better legal tool than the regular extradition action to get a person under investigation by Indian probe agencies back to the country. The ED has been wanting Mallya to join the probe in this case “in person” and had issued multiple summons to him but could not get success as Mallya, who is in the UK, never deposed before it.
The ED has virtually exhausted all legal options to bring Mallya back to India including the issuance of NBW, based on which it had made the requests for revocation of his passport and subsequent deportation bid, apart from seeking an Interpol warrant against him which has remained unsuccessful till now. The central probe agency is also working to soon file its first charge sheet in the case even as it has attached assets worth Rs 9,661 crore in this probe case. The ED had registered a criminal case in this deal last year under the provisions of the PMLA, based on a CBI FIR.