What’s delaying fugitive business tycoon Vijay Mallya’s extradition from United Kingdom? Legal issues, which are confidential in nature, are to be blamed for this, according to UK, the Centre has told Supreme Court, asserting it’s making all efforts to bringing him back.
Vijay Mallya is an accused in a bank loan default case of over ₹9,000 crore, which involves his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. He has been in the UK since March 2016. He is on bail on an extradition warrant executed three years ago by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has shared a letter from an foreign ministry official stating the current status of Mallya’s extradition from UK, with the court and sought time to file a report. The top court has taken the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) letter on record.
The letter submitted by the law officer stated that, the MEA has been informed by the UK government that there is a further legal issue that needs resolving before Mallya can be extradited. It said, Under UK’s law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved.
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“As it is judicial in nature, the issue is confidential and you’ll understand that Her Majesty’s government cannot provide any more details. We also cannot estimate how long this issue will take to resolve. Her Majesty’s government fully understands the importance of this case to the government of India. I can reassure that Her Majesty’s government is seeking to deal with the issue as quickly as possible,” the letter read.
Mehta said the Centre is making all serious efforts to extradite Mallya, but status remains the same. From political executive level to administrative level the matter is being looked into repeatedly, the solicitor general has informed the apex court. A bench of Justices U U Lalit and Ashok Bhushan has posted the matter for further hearing on March 15.
The letter further stated, “The government of India has been making consistent efforts for early extradition of Vijay Mallya. In November 2020, Foreign secretary Harshvardhan Shringla raised this issue with Priti Patel, UK Home Secretary who informed that UK’s legal complexities were preventing the quick extradition of Vijay Mallya.”
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It further said, “In December 2020, the external affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar raised the issue with the UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab and most recently in January 2021, the Home Secretary of India raised it with the UK Permanent Under Secretary of Home. UK’s response remains the same.”
On November 2, last year, the top court had asked the Centre to file status report in six weeks on the confidential legal proceedings pending in the UK on extradition of Mallya to India. The Centre had on October 5 told the court that Mallya cannot be extradited until a separate secret legal process in UK, which is judicial and confidential in nature is resolved.
The top court had also refused to accept the plea of advocate E C Agarwala, appearing for Mallya in the apex court, seeking discharge from the case. The Centre had in October, last year said it is not aware of the secret on-going proceedings against Mallya in the UK as the government of India is not party to the process.
(With inputs from agencies)