The Royal Courts of Justice in London on April 20 quashed an appeal by fugitive Indian businessman and liquor baron Vijay Mallya, against a 2018 extradition order by a lower court in the United Kingdom.
Mallya is wanted back in India under charges of financial fraud to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore. He defaulted on repayment of loans taken by the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines from several Indian banks. In January 2019, a special PMLA court in India declared him a 'fugitive economic offender'.
The former United Spirits chairman fled to London in March 2016, following which his passport was revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
A consortium of 17 banks led by the country's largest lender, the State Bank of India (SBI), had filed a case to recover dues worth over Rs 9,000 crore. Mallya was arrested in the UK in April 2017 but was soon released on bail.
Mallya contests Rs 9,000 crore debt
The former chairman of United Breweries had said that his conduct did not amount to wilful default since he attempted to make settlements in March and April 2016.
The absconding businessman claims that a major portion of the dues is due to interest.
Mallya stressed that he is not a "fugitive".
When was the first chargesheet filed?
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed the first chargesheet in 2017, accusing Mallya of loan fraud. The CBI too filed a chargesheet against the businessman.
The ED has charged Mallya with money laundering under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines and United Breweries have been named in the complaint.
The ED also declared Mallya a "fugitive" under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, and said that it wanted to attach assets worth Rs 12,500 crore belonging to him.
Is extradition likely?
In December 2018, a UK court approved the liquor baron-turned-fugitive businessman's extradition to India and the order was later signed by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Mallya then appealed against the order in the London court, which was quashed earlier today.
With this latest development, Vijay Mallya is one step closer to being extradited to India to face the charges. He has 14 days to apply for permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court against this dismissal. In this case, the country's Home Office would be required to wait for the outcome of that appeal.
However, if he does not, then under the India-UK Extradition Treaty the UK Home Office would be expected to formally certify the court order for Mallya's return to India within 28 days.