New Delhi: In a big boost to India’s efforts to bring back Vijay Mallya, who is wanted for alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore, the UK Home Secretary on Monday approved the fugitive liquor baron’s extradition.
The 63-year-old businessman had been found to have a case to answer before the Indian courts by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on December 10, 2018. The court had ruled in favour of extradition of Mallya.
Sajid Javid, the UK’s senior-most Pakistani-origin minister, had two months from that date to sign off on that order.
The UK Home Office confirmed on Monday that after considering all matters, the minister had signed Mallya’s extradition order on Sunday.
“On February 3 the Secretary of State, having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India,” a Home Office spokesperson said.
“Vijay Mallya is accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money laundering offences,” the spokesperson added.
He now has 14 days from February 4 to apply for leave to appeal to the UK High Court.
Welcoming the development, government sources said, “We have taken note of the decision of the UK Home Secretary to sign on the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India. While we welcome the UK Government’s decision in the matter, we await the early completion of the legal process for his extradition.”
Meanwhile, Union Minister Arun Jaitley lauded the Modi government for the development in Mallya’s extradition process while taking on the opposition, which has extended support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s dharna in Kolkata over Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams.
“Modi Government clears one more step to get Mallya extradited while Opposition rallies around the Saradha Scamsters,” he tweeted.
Following the order by the UK Home Secretary, Mallya said: “After decision was handed down on Dec 10,2018 by Westminster Magistrates Court, I stated my intention to appeal. I couldn’t initiate appeal process before a decision by Home Secretary. Now I’ll initiate the appeal process.”
The former Kingfisher Airlines’ boss has earlier indicated that he intends to file an application to appeal against the Westminster Magistrates’ Court verdict in favour of his extradition to India.
The businessman had told reporters soon after the ruling by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot in London in December 2018 that he would consider the verdict in detail and decide his next course of action. His legal team later confirmed that he will seek leave to appeal against the court order.
“Dr Mallya has now been able to consider the court’s decision and intends to file an application for permission to appeal at the appropriate time,” said Anand Doobay, Partner at UK-based Boutique Law LLP, who has been Mallya’s solicitor through the extradition process.
Days ago, a special Mumbai court declared Mallya a fugitive economic offender (FEO) on a plea of the Enforcement Directorate. Mallya became the first businessman to be declared EFO under the provisions of the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act which came into existence in August last year.
Mallya, accused of defaulting on loan repayments and money laundering, had left India in March 2016.
Mallya is on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard in April 2017 after the Indian authorities brought fraud and money laundering charges amounting to Rs 9,000 crores against the former Kingfisher Airlines boss.
The UK court had said it was satisfied with the various assurances provided by the Indian government, including a video of the jail cell, which had not only been recently redecorated but was also far larger than the minimum requirement threshold.