Striking off another one of his safe paths, with the England and Wales High Court dismissing an appeal against his extradition, all the escape routes are closing out for the former Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya.
He still has one more though. He can appeal to the Supreme Court within the next 14 days but the highest court will interfere only if there is a substantial question of law. For that to happen, the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel should allow him to make an appeal.
Mallya can also apply to the European Court of Human Rights to prevent the extradition claiming that he will not receive a fair trial in India but it is unlikely that his appeal will be entertained as he is viewed more like a criminal than someone whose human rights have been violated.
In case Mallya’s lawyers are unable to prove that the extradition is unlawful and that it can result in him being exposed to death threats, there is very little chance that the UK Government will allow him to stay back. His only hope is for the lockdown to continue in London indefinitely or else he will have to be extradited within the next 28 days.
Mallya left India in March 2016 claiming that he was visiting his relatives in London but never returned even after the Indian Supreme Court directed him to do so. He later claimed that he feared for his life if he was extradited to India, followed by a repeated claim that he is willing to pay the entire loan of ₹9,000 crore including interest, if the government asks the lenders to allow him to sell the pledged shares as well as his various properties which have been attached by various agencies.
Mallya has often been accused of diverting loans raised for running Kingfisher Airlines to buy yachts, a cricket team, an F1 racing team, and a few properties.
The Enforcement Directorate has claimed that they have enough evidence to show that he also made money worth millions via round-tripping in which money left the country through inflated invoices and payments to overseas shell companies but returned to the country through investment in listed entities thereby artificially boosting its stock price.
Mallya allegedly bought shares at a lower price and when the price went up because of the round-tripping, sold them off making a handsome pile.
The former billionaire also owes money to various entities abroad including Diageo to which he sold off United Spirits in November 2012. He has also lost a case against the Swiss Bank, UBS for non-payment of £20.4 million-worth mortgages for a 12-bedroom townhouse in London overlooking Regent Park.
A court recently allowed him to refinance the property if he pays ₹200 crores to the bank.
In another case, Diageo won a $135 million suit against him after it dragged him and his son, Siddharth to court for repayment of $40 million for breach of contract and another $135 million loan that it had refinanced for Mallya’s company, Watson.
In case Mallya is extradited to India, he will be locked up at the Arthur Road prison in Mumbai, housed in a cell which will have a western commode and allowed to use a mattress, a pillow, a tumbler, and two bowls.
For a man who spent most of his time flying in aeroplanes, he might soon find himself truly grounded just as his airline is now.