A court in the United Kingdom on Monday ordered the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya to India, reported The Indian Express. Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot ordered the extradition after finding a prima facie case of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering against him, ANI reported.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley termed it a “great day for India”, reported ANI. “No one who cheats India will go scot-free,” Jaitley said, while welcoming the court’s verdict. “An offender benefited during the UPA [United Progressive Alliance]. The NDA [National Democratic Alliance] brings him to book.”
The Central Bureau of Investigation welcomed the decision of the Westminster Magistrates Court. “We hope to bring him soon and conclude the case,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “CBI has its own inherent strengths. We worked hard on this case. We are strong on law and facts and we were confident while pursuing [the] extradition process.”
The decision will now go to the UK Home Office for the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who would pass an order based on the verdict. The UK government has the option of not heeding 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.
After the verdict, Mallya told media persons that he could have done “something more productive” with his time, ANI reported. “Do I regret being in a situation where I’m reading legal papers and paying legal fees?” he said. “Yes, I do. I could have done something more productive with my time.”
Arun Jaitley attacks Congress
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called the judgement “a proud moment for India”, and asked Congress President Rahul Gandhi to “introspect”. “This judgement should also give a lot of room to Congress party and its president to seriously introspect,” he said. “He should introspect for every falsehood that he has spoken on this topic.”
“You [the Congress] are culprits in giving loans to Mallya,” Jaitley added. “You created a situation in which people like these could prosper, and we have succeeded now in getting him back.”
Mallya fled India and moved to London in March 2016. India submitted an extradition request to the UK in February 2017 after the businessman made his self-imposed exile clear. He contested his extradition on the grounds that the case against him was “politically motivated” and that the loans he defaulted on were taken to keep the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines afloat.
Ahead of the verdict on Monday, Mallya said he had not “stolen” money and that his offer to repay the principal amount to Indian banks was “not bogus”, PTI reported. Last week, he had offered to pay the entire principal amount he owes to a consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India. “I did not borrow a single rupee,” he had tweeted.