Former liquor baron Vijay Mallya was granted bail by a Westminster magistrates’ court in London on Tuesday only hours after he was arrested by the Scotland Yard in London. He was released on a conditional deposit of 6.5 lakh pounds (around Rs 5.34 crores) and the case for his extradition will be heard on May 17, reported NDTV.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the legal process of extradition was underway and that representatives of the two governments were communicating on the matter. The 61-year-old businessman was arrested on behalf of Indian authorities for his alleged involvement in fraud, a statement issued by the Scotland Yard said.
Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar said the bail was not an indicator of leniency. “We will not let miscreants like Mallya escape. We will make sure he is brought back to India and produced before the law after due consideration of legal formalities,” Gangwar told reporters.
After securing bail, Mallya took to Twitter and wrote, “Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected.” While he praised certain sections of the media for “putting facts in perspective”, he accused news channel Times Now of “fabricating stories for sensationalism”.
Mallya, who owes 17 banks in India more than Rs 9,000 crore, has been in the United Kingdom since March 2016 and had earlier said he will not return to the country. He has been embroiled in a number of cases in India.
The arrest is being seen as the first step to his extradition requested by India, reported Economic Times. Union minister Jitendra Singh called it as a big success for the Indian government and the Finance Ministry. Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State, Finance, said Mallya would be brought back to India for his trial. “Due process of law will be followed,” Gangwar told ANI.
However, the Congress was quick to point out how fast he got bail. “Within one hour, Vijay Mallya got bail,” said Congress leader Randeep Surjewala. “So the government should stop misleading the people of India.”
The Ministry of External Affairs had submitted an extradition request for Mallya on February 9 this year. Later that month, Indian and UK officials met for two days to discuss deportation cases and pending requests to extradite people from the two countries. A few media reports had claimed that during one of these meetings, the British officials had assured India that Mallya would be deported.
In November 2016, he was declared an absconder by a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court. The same month, India had asked the UK to extradite the industrialist under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty for the loans he owes. On January 31, a special CBI court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
Neetu Shukla, a former Kingfisher employee reacted to the news of Mallya’s arrest, and said, “Very happy, will be even happier the day we are paid our dues and get justice.” Rajya Sabha MP and Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Vijay Goel, also reacted to the arrest and asked the Opposition to acknowledge that the Centre had acted strongly against defaulters, India Today reported.