The UK Home Office has confirmed the receipt of the Westminster Magistrates' Court verdict in favour of Vijay Mallya's extradition to India.
The UK Home Office has confirmed the receipt of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court verdict in favour of Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India. After Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that the “flashy” liquor baron had a “case to answer” in the Indian courts on allegations of fraud and money laundering amounting to nearly Rs 9,000 crores, the decision now lies with Home Secretary Sajid Javid to formally order the extradition. Javid, the senior-most British-Pakistani minister in the UK Cabinet, has two months to make that decision but the extradition process itself would take longer if the entire appeals process is taken into account.
The UK Home Office said Tuesday it has received the Westminster Magistrates’ Court verdict for Mallya’s extradition to India. “If after considering the case, the Home Secretary thinks extradition should go ahead he has to order the extradition within two months of the date the matter was referred to him,” said a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which argued on behalf of the Indian government. “Whatever that decision, the losing side has up to 14 days within which to approach the High Court and seek leave to appeal,” the spokesperson said.
Mallya told reporters outside the courtroom after Monday’s verdict that he will consider all his “options” and decide the process ahead. “Dr Mallya will be carefully considering the court’s judgment and, therefore, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this time,” said Anand Doobay, Partner at UK-based Boutique Law LLP, who has been Mallya’s solicitor through the extradition process. Monday’s verdict marked a major turning point in the case, which dates back to the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines defaulting on loans sought from a series of state-owned Indian banks.
The CPS argued that these loans were sought by Mallya with fraudulent intentions, who then misused the funds. The Chief Magistrate found there was “clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds” as she ruled there was a prima facie case of fraud and a conspiracy to money laundering against Mallya. The judge also dismissed any bars to extradition on the grounds of the prison conditions under which the 62-year-old businessman would be held, as she accepted the Indian government’s assurances that he would receive all necessary medical care at Barrack 12 in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail.
However, the judge made a specific reference to some of the badly presented paperwork by the Indian authorities. While she did not accept Mallya’s barrister Clare Montgomery’s contention that the “atrocious state of the papers” in the case was indicative of the Indian government wanting to “throw everything” at the accused, she did note that there was no doubt the state of the papers presented by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the case had doubled the court’s work.
“What was missing was a volume by volume index and pagination which were clearly set out on every page. The state of the papers was not an indication that the CBI or ED were trying to throw everything at the RP (requested person: Mallya), but rather indicated that it had not stood back and considered what would help this court in making its decisions.
“Without an index to each volume of papers and with sometimes three different paginations on each page, the court’s job was made much more difficult,” the judge said. She also made specific note of Mallya’s decision not to give direct evidence in the case, which left some of the meetings he had with bankers unexplained.
“There were no minutes made of these meetings that I have seen. Dr Mallya has not explained to the court what was said during them,” Judge Arbuthnot noted. The ruling this week completes the first stage of the extradition process, which began in April last year with Mallya’s arrest on an extradition warrant. He remains on the same bail conditions until the case moves on to an expected appeal stage.