The government’s efforts to bring beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya back to face law in India got a boost on Tuesday when the UK accepted its request to help extradite the absconding liquor baron.
Mallya’s arrest by Scotland Yard on Tuesday marks the first step in the process of extradition. The development was an outcome of the extradition request by India pursuant to orders from a Mumbai court in two different cases against the liquor baron and founder of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
While the extradition process has been initiated by the UK, getting Mallya back will be no walk in the park for the Indian government. The process may take months of legal and diplomatic battles.
The extradition process from the UK involves a number of steps including a decision by the judge whether to issue a warrant of arrest.
India falls under category 2, Type B for UK Extradition Act 2003. Requests from these territories need decisions by both the Secretary of State and the courts.
While the request by India for extradition of Mallya, who has been declared a proclaimed offender, was certified by the Secretary of State last month, it is yet to get a green signal from Westminster Magistrates’ Court, regarding the release of arrest warrant.
UK’s extradition process – a lengthy task
- The extradition request by a nation is made to the Secretary of State who decide whether to certify the request. This has been approved in Mallya’s case.
- The court then decides whether to issue a warrant for arrest. In case the warrant is issued, the person is arrested and brought before the court for preliminary hearing followed by an extradition hearing before the Secretary of State decides whether to order extradition.
- The judge also has to consider whether the person could face capital punishment if extradited and whether an extradition would be a violation of his or her human rights.
- Requesting states are advised to submit an initial draft request to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or, in the case of Scotland, to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) extradition team, so that any potential problems can be resolved.
- The UK Crown office, acting on the Indian request, will argue Indian authorities’ case for Mallya’s extradition and he will have a chance to oppose it. His Indian advocates B Munim and Desai are expected to assist in the proceedings, says a Times of India report.
- If needed, evidence from Indian agencies including CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and service tax authorities will be presented.
- Until Britain leaves the EU, the person facing the extradition case has a final recourse—approaching the European Court of Human Rights.
In Mallya’s case, a senior district judge will start the extradition hearing on May 17.
Mallya’s counsel Amit Desai also indicated that the extradition process will take a long time. “Mallya will be served with the extradition papers and given a chance to rebut. The proceedings will take place before a magistrate who will now fix a schedule for hearing. The proceedings may last six months to a year before a decision is passed,” he was quoted by Times of India as saying.
Mallya, in a message on Twitter, called the news of his arrest "usual Indian media hype" as television channels said he was granted bail at the hearing.
History against India in extradition cases with Britain
The absconding liquor baron is among the several Indian citizens wanted for alleged offences in India. However, so far, there has been only one extradition since a treaty was signed with the UK in September 1992. Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel was extradited in October 2016 in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Ten requests by India for extradition of fugitive criminals including Vijay Mallya, who is facing charges of loan default to the tune of nearly Rs 9,000 crore, are pending with the UK.
“As on date, a total of extradition requests made by the government in respect of fugitive criminals namely Rajesh Kapoor, Tiger Hanif, Atul Singh, Raj Kumar Patel, Jatinder Kumar Angurala, Asha Rani Angurala, Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, Shaik Sadiq, Ashok Malik and Mallya are pending with the UK government,” said Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh.
The extradition requests in respect of criminal fugitive namely Raymond Varley, Ravi Shankaran, Velu Boopalan, Ajay Prasad Khaitan, Virendra Kumar Rastogi and Anand Kumar Jain have been rejected by the British government.