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Vijay Mallya briefly detained, Extradition hearing to be held in UK courts

  • The Modi government has been making various efforts to bring Vijay Mallya to justice in India for defaulting on bank loans totaling over Rs. 9,000 crores. It got a boost recently when the UK accepted its request to help extradite the absconding liquor tycoon.
     
    Acting on an extradition request sent by the CBI in connection with the IDBI Bank scam and a service tax case, UK's Scotland Yard arrested Mallya and produced him in a court which, as is the routine in financial crimes, released him on conditional bail on stiff conditions until May 17 when a senior district judge will start the extradition hearing. This is bound to result in a long drawn out legal battle between Mallya and Indian agencies, the CBI as well as the Enforcement Directorate, over the Centre's move to bring him home to face the law for not repaying public sector banks thousands of crores he had borrowed for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

    It is difficult to determine the outcome of the battle at this stage because British courts have often employed tough standards to allow extradition requests: perhaps the reason why Mallya tried to play down the dramatic development and accused Indian media of hyping it up. "Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in court started today as expected," a defiant Mallya tweeted after he was released on a bail bond of Rs 5.4 crore.

    However, sources in CBI as well as the MEA emphasized the importance of the arrest by saying it marked the beginning of the extradition process which now has to reach a "logical conclusion". CBI sources in Delhi said the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London forbade the businessman from leaving or attempting to leave the UK.
     
    In fact, Mallya is supposed to remain confined at his property at Hertfordshire close to London, and not apply for international travel documents or be in the possession of any. His Indian passport, revoked after he left for London, will be with Scotland Yard. The businessman is also required to keep his mobile phone switched on, fully charged and on his person 24 hours a day.

    According to Mallya's counsel in Mumbai, Amit Desai, the proceedings may last six months to a year before the UK court decides whether to send him back to India.
     
    Mallya's case is being pursued by both CBI and ED, which are probing him for cheating banks to secure loans worth Rs 9,000 crore and defaulting. Separately, the ED is probing him for alleged money laundering, specifically for diversion of the loans he took for Kingfisher Airlines which has gone kaput.

    Modi Government has pursued the matter with the highest UK authorities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue when his UK counterpart, Theresa May, when she visited Delhi last November. Taking up the baton, finance minister Arun Jaitley brought up the matter with UK's chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond and May when he visited London in February. 


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