A UK court Monday ordered Vijay Mallya’s extradition, in a major boost to India’s efforts to bring back the fugitive wanted for alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores.
Delivering the verdict, Westminster Magistrates’ Court Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot said that there was “no sign of a false case being mounted against him”.
“Having considered evidence as a whole. There is a case to answer,” Judge Arbuthnot said as she ruled that 62-year-old Mallya could be extradited to India to stand trial on the charges brought by the CBI and the ED.
She was also extremely critical of how loans were granted and then used.
The ruling marked a significant point in the high-profile extradition trial that has lasted over a year.
In relation to the defence’s attempts to dispute Indian prison conditions as a bar to Mallya’s extradition on human rights grounds, the judge said the video of the Barrack 12 of Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, where Mallya would be held, “gives accurate portrayal and has been recently redecorated”.
“He will have access to personal medical care to manage his diabetes and coronary problems… There was no ground at all to believe that he faces any risk at all (in jail),” the judge ruled.
She referred the extradition case to Secretary of State Sajid Javid, who will pass an order based on the verdict.
The defence team has the right to file for a permission to appeal in the Chief Magistrate’s ruling in the UK High Court.
The former Kingfisher Airlines boss has been on bail since his arrest in April last year.
The judge ruled that Mallya would remain on same bail conditions.
In New Delhi, CBI spokesperson welcomed the verdict.
Earlier in the day, Mallya sought to disprove the narrative that he has “stolen” money and said his offer to repay the principal amount to the Indian banks was “not bogus”.
Mallya made the remarks while talking to reporters outside the Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss was on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year.
“My settlement offer is made before the Karnataka High Court. It is not related to this extradition trial. Nobody disrespects a court of law by making a bogus offer. The assets have been attached by the ED so they cannot be bogus assets,” he said, asserting that his offer to repay the principal amount was not bogus.
The embattled liquor tycoon said that the value of his assets is more than enough to pay everybody and that is exactly what he was focusing on.
“I want to disprove the narrative that I have stolen (money),” he said.
He said his legal team will review the judgment and take proper steps thereafter.
In reference to settlement offer to Karnataka High Court, Mallya said that he has requested the court that if the settlement is granted then first the employees of Kingfisher be paid.
The trial, which opened at the Magistrates’ Court on December 4 last year, has gone through a series of hearings beyond the initial seven days earmarked for it. PTI