Thirteen months after allegedly fleeing from India, India’s beleagured liquor baron Vijay Mallya was today briefly arrested in London by the Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant and later granted conditional bail by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Mallya, 61, had left India on March 2, 2016 even as he owned around Rs 10,000 crore to a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India. As of November 2015, Mallya’s total due was Rs 9091 crore, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had informed the Lok Sabha in March last year, while claiming, “there have been clear instructions that every possible action should be pursued.”
Since last year, Modi government has been on the backfoot and even accused by the opposition parties of helping Mallya “escape” from India. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad had said in March last year: “My allegation is that this government is party to this criminal conspiracy of allowing him to escape and leave the country. In this criminal conspiracy, this Government should be made party and the Supreme Court should take note of this.” However, Modi government had been trying hard to bring back Mallya from London, so that he can face trial in Indian court and also repay the banks.
Here are all that we know about Vijay Mallya’s arrest today, and what steps Indian government has taken to bring him back from London, will this happen soon or not:
- CBI had registered a case registered against Mallya on July 29, 2015. The probe agency filed its charge sheet in the case on January 24, 2017 and sent an extradition request on February 8.
- On February 8 this year, India had submitted a formal extradition request for the businessman, who is famous for his lavish lifestyle, as per the Extradition Treaty between India and the UK.
Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected.
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) April 18, 2017
- In its request, India had stressed that it had a “legitimate” case against the owner of now defunct Kingfisher Airlines. India’s letter also said that if the extradition request was honoured, it would show British “sensitivity” towards Indian concerns.
- The British government had set in motion the process of Mallya’s extradition last month, when it certified India’s request and sent it to a district judge for action. Earlier, the British authorities had refused to deport Mallya when India canceled his passport, saying the Indian businessman had a valid UK visa.
- According to PTI, the extradition process from London includes a number of steps, including a decision by the judge whether to issue a warrant of arrest. In case of a warrant, the person is arrested and brought before the court for preliminary hearing followed by an extradition hearing before a final decision is taken by the secretary of state.
- In its statement, the Scotland Yard said: “Vijay Mallya was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud. He was arrested after attending a central London police station…”
- On Tuesday, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court granted conditional bail to Mallya. The businessman has a right to appeal to higher courts of the UK against any decision against him. He can appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court.
- According to a PTI report, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had last month discussed the issue of a certain “fugitive” (Mallya) overstaying in London with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
- Following the arrest of Mallya today, former CBI Director Anil Sinha hailed the “success” of law enforcement agencies. He also said that efforts to bring him to India would “fructify”. “It is a success of law enforcement agencies. I am confident that efforts to bring him back will fructify,” Sinha told PTI. During Sinha’s tenure, the first case of default of over Rs 900 crore to IDBI Bank by Mallya was registered.
- Mallya has so far dismissed all charges against him and even accused the government of wrongly targeting him. Even today, the liquor baron mocked India media reports about his arrest, tweeting: “Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected.”
- According to a report by CNN News18, a team of Indian law enforcement officials would visit London to begin work on his extradition soon.
- Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State for Finance said: “Vijay Mallya will be brought back to India, due process of law will be followed.”
- The Congress party, however, attacked Modi government once again on the issue. “After relentless campaign by Congress, finally extradition request was submitted by the government in February. But within 1 hour, Vijay Mallya got bail. So the government should stop misleading the people of India,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
- ANI reported government sources as saying: “Now Indian authorities (CBI and Indian High commission) will start the process of Vijay Mallya’s extradition.”
- In January this year, a CBI court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Mallya in the Rs 720-crore IDBI Bank loan default case.
(With inputs from agencies)