Indian industrialist, Vijay Mallya, 61, whose Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) collapsed and who allegedly owes various Indian banks around Rs 9,000 crore, was granted conditional bail by the Westminster Magistrates Court in central London on Tuesday, after he was produced there following an extradition request by India. The next hearing of the case will be on May 17.
Mallya appeared to make light of his earlier brief detention. “Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in court started today as expected,” he tweeted.
It went on to state: “Vijay Mallya, 61 (18/12/1955), was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud. He was arrested after attending a central London police station….”
The last time any Indian was extradited to India by virtue of an order by a British court and against his will was Manu Narang in 1977. He stole two pillars from a temple in India. He stole two pillars from a temple in India. This was, in fact, before the Extradition Treaty between India and the United Kingdom came into being in 1993.
He explained: “The judge has to be satisfied Mallya gets a fair trial in India. His lawyer’s will argue he is being politically hounded and is a victim of a media trial. He might also point out other Indian businessmen owe much more money to Indian banks, but his client has been singled out for persecution.”
Zaiwalla was of the opinion that a “worldwide freezing order” on Mallya’s assets would have been more effective than the extradition route.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley personally took up the matter with his counterpart Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, when they met in London in February. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, also joined in the discussions.
Following that exchange, sources close to Jaitley said the difference between previous cases and this one was “there is a political will” on the part of the British government to meet India’s expectations. This was interpreted as May herself — anxious to woo India in an uncertain climate for Britain after Brexit — indicating a resolve to do so.
Mallya, who enjoys a right of residence in Britain, left India over 13 months ago. He has been living in the United Kingdom since, notwithstanding his passport being confiscated a year ago.
As a result of his company’s debt, he was designated a proclaimed offender. He is wanted in India for defaulting on loans. Despite several summons to appear before the Enforcement Department of the Union Finance Minister, he refused to present himself before it.
In January, an Indian court permitted his lenders to pursue diluting the exposure. A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court also issued a non-bailable warrant against him. Following this, the Indian High Commission in London handed over an extradition request to the British Foreign Office, saying India had a “legitimate” case and sending Mallya back would demonstrate British “sensitivity towards our concerns”.