Vijay Mallya’s extradition trial begins in London

RSTV Bureau
London: F1 Force India team boss Vijay Mallya speaks to the media as he arrives for the first day of his court case facing extradition to India, at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017.  Mallya, the United Breweries Group chairman and co-owner of the Force India F1 team is wanted in India to face fraud allegations. AP/PTI

London: F1 Force India team boss Vijay Mallya speaks to the media as he arrives for the first day of his court case facing extradition to India, at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Mallya, the United Breweries Group chairman and co-owner of the Force India F1 team is wanted in India to face fraud allegations. AP/PTI

Indian businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition trial begins in a London court. Mallya is wanted in India on loan defaults to several banks amounting to nearly ₹ 9,000-crore.

Mallya, who is out on a 650,000-pound bail bond following his arrest by Scotland Yard over fraud and money laundering charges, arrived at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court for the opening day of the trial, which will continue till December 14.

“Please hear the proceedings,” Mallya told reporters outside the courtroom when he arrived.

Mallya’s defence team is led by barrister Clare Montgomery while India’s case to bring back the 61-year old businessman over charges of forgery and money laundering related to his erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines, will be represented through the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the British government.

The trial will be heard by Chief Magistrate Emma Louise Arbuthnot who, in a previous hearing, had highlighted prison conditions as a concern that has been “raised in extraditions to India before”.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had told the court that the Indian authorities foresaw this as an issue and has been “engaged on the matter”.

The CPS will need to demonstrate a prima facie case by producing evidence to show that the criminal charges against Mallya are justified and that he should be extradited to face the Indian courts.

The trial is listed for hearings until December 14 but a judgement in the case is not expected until early next year.

The business tycoon has been on self-imposed exile in the UK since he left India on March 2, 2016.

If the judge rules in favour of extradition at the end of the trial, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd must order Mallya’s extradition within two months. However, the case can go through a series of court appeals before the actual extradition order can be issued.

India and the UK have an Extradition Treaty dating back to 1992 but so far only one extradition has taken place from the UK to India under the arrangement. Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, wanted in connection with the post-Godhra riots of 2002, was extradited. But, unlike Mallya, he had submitted to the extradition order without a legal challenge.

(With inputs from agencies)