A United Kingdom High Court bench that was hearing the high-octane case against liquor baron Vijay Mallya struck down his extradition appeal on April 20. The 64-year-old flamboyant businessman, who used to own Kingfisher Airlines, had appealed to the High Court to turn down India’s extradition request to try him for graft and money laundering.
In their judgement, the bench observed: “We consider that while the scope of the prima facie case found by the SDJ [Senior District Judge] is in some respects wider than that alleged by the Respondent in India [Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED)], there is a prima facie case which, in seven important respects, coincides with the allegations in India.”
So, what are the options left with Vijay Mallya to upend the appeal of the Government of India?
He now has 14 days’ time to apply for a certificate from the High Court that would state that an arguable point of law of general public importance —which should have been considered — was overlooked by both the courts hearing his appeal.
If he is able to obtain such a certificate from the UK High Court, only then he will be able to appeal against the extradition request in the UK Supreme Court. However, it is highly likely that the certificate would be refused by the High Court, in which case, UK Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel, will take the final call on the matter. If she gives her consent, Mallya’s extradition process to India will begin.
Barrack number 12 of the Arthur Road jail in Maharashtra’s Mumbai has been prepared to house the magnate once he arrives and it is expected that fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi will also be lodged in the same cell, if and when he is extradited.
Notably, India has been pushing for Mallya’s extradition over primary charges of “dishonesty”, which include misrepresentations made to banks to get loans and misusing those loans.
Mallya has defaulted on a loan amounting to Rs 9,000 crores approximately to a consortium of Indian banks led by the State Bank of India. He is facing charges of money laundering, cheating, diversion of loan funds, alongside violating Sebi norms, among others. Mallya has, however, repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and offered to repay the loan amount.