New Delhi: Vijay Mallya’s permission to appeal against the extradition case has been approved by the Royal Courts of Justice,London, reported news agency ANI on Tuesday. A two-judge bench, George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell of the Administrative Court division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, heard Mallya’s application.
After hearing arguments from Mallya’s barrister Clare Montgomery, the High Court judges concluded that reasonable arguments could be made on some aspects of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot’s ruling in favour of a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering against Mallya last December.
Speaking to reporters after the day-long hearing, the beleaguered liquor baron said that he has always maintained that the charges against him were fabricated and repeated his offer to pay back the debt owed to Indian banks.
“I have always maintained that these are false charges, fabricated charges and have no merit. And I think my point has now been vindicated. I still want the banks to take all their money, do what they have to do and leave me in peace,” said Mallya.
He added,”Two senior-most judges of the High Court have given me permission to appeal the decision of the Westminster Magistrate in the prima facie case on the merits of the charges against me by the government of India… I wanted to win on the prima facie grounds because that is central to everything and deals with the government’s charges against me and the Division Bench felt that decision was appeal-able, and that means the most to me.”
Later he took to Twitter and reiterated that charges against him were false. “God is great.Justice prevails. A Division Bench of the English High Court with two senior Judges allowed my application to appeal against the Magistrates Judgement on the prima facie case and charges by the CBI. I always said the charges were false,” Mallya tweeted.
“Despite the good Court result for me today, I once again repeat my offer to pay back the Banks that lent money to Kingfisher Airlines in full. Please take the money. With the balance, I also want to pay employees and other creditors and move on in life,” wrote Mallya.
Before the hearing today, the 63-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss had said he was feeling ‘positive’ as he entered the Royal Courts of Justice, where Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell heard the arguments from his barrister Montgomery.
Montgomery told the court that the Requesting State, or the government of India, and the UK Home Secretary had chosen not to be represented. This indicates that the onus lies entirely on Mallya’s defence team to establish the grounds for permission to appeal against the lower court’s ruling in favour of the extradition.
Representatives from the Indian High Commission in London were present in court to observe the proceedings.
Mallya had earlier appealed to the court in a written application against the extradition, however, the appeal was rejected by Judge William Davis on April 5.
Mallya, 63, left India on March 2, 2016 after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. He has repeatedly denied fleeing the country, saying he is ready to pay back the money he owed to the Indian banks.
India had in 2017 filed for Mallya’s extradition, which he contested. He is out on bail.
A consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), has initiated loan recovery proceedings against him. The proceedings are on before a special court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also moved the Special Prevention of Money-Laundering Act Court last year to get Mallya declared a “fugitive economic offender” and confiscate his properties, estimated at more than Rs 12,000 crore, making it the first such case of its kind under the new law.