A magistrate court in the United Kingdom on Monday ordered the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya to India. The decision is a big shot in the arm of the Narendra Modi government, which had been accused by the Opposition of facilitating Mallya’s flight to the United Kingdom in March 2016. Mallya is accused of cheating banks of Rs 9,000 crore and is facing a number of lawsuits in the United Kingdom and India related to fraud and money laundering allegations,
However, the Westminster Magistrate’s order does not guarantee his extradition, given the judicial structure in the United Kingdom.
According to the United Kingdom Supreme Court’s website, a magistrate is at the bottom of the judicial structure, much like in India’s system. As per the extradition process in the United Kingdom, once a judge orders extradition of a foreign national, the file will be sent to the home secretary for the government to make its decision.
The UK government has the option of not heeding to the court order. However, if the government accepts the court’s ruling, Mallya will still have the option of appealing in the England and Wales High Court. After the proceedings in the High Court, it is also open to Mallya to approach the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
This means Mallya’s immediate return is not guaranteed. The trial seeking his extradition took a year to conclude, having begun in December, 2017. The Central Bureau of Investigation made extensive arguments before the British court.
But despite such expected procedural delays, the Bharatiya Janata Party is certain to use the court’s decision to take on the Opposition, which has over the months accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of deliberately allowing willful defaulters flee the nation. In September, Congress president Rahul Gandhi even sought the resignation of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, alleging that Jaitley colluded with Mallya to script the escape.
While the CBI accused Mallya of fraud, the businessman had argued before the court that the loan defaults were the result of business failure due to extraordinary circumstances and was not a willful default to defraud the banks.