The British High Commission on Thursday said fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya cannot be extradited to India unless “a legal issue” is resolved, NDTV reported. However, it is not clear what the legal problem is and if the 64-year-old businessman has made an asylum claim.
Last month, Mallya was denied permission to appeal to the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court against a Britain High Court order that upheld a 2018 ruling for his extradition to India to face fraud and money laundering charges resulting from the collapse of his defunct company Kingfisher Airlines. The businessman fled India and moved to London in March 2016. Mallya owes Indian banks more than Rs 9,000 crore.
“There is a further legal issue that needs resolving before Mallya’s extradition can be arranged,” a spokesperson of the British High Commission told NDTV. “Under United Kingdom law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved. The issue is confidential and we cannot go into any detail. We cannot estimate how long this issue will take to resolve. We are seeking to deal with this as quickly as possible.”
The British High Commission also reiterated that there is no change in Mallya’s extradition status as yet, according to CNBC-TV18.
The ruling on May 14 left the businessman with no further legal options to challenge his extradition. The order was to be sent to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to formally certify the process to extradite him to India within 28 days. However, Patel has not signed off on Mallya’s extradition for legal reasons, The Times of India reported. “No date has been arranged for Vijay Mallya’s extradition as of yet,” a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told the newspaper. The police have to accompany Mallya to Heathrow airport and hand him over to Indian officials whenever he is extradited.
India submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom in February 2017 after Mallya made it clear he would not return. In July, the United Kingdom High Court allowed him to challenge his extradition order.
Mallya has repeatedly denied the charges against him and offered to pay back 100% of the amount borrowed by Kingfisher Airlines, but neither the banks nor the Enforcement Directorate have been willing to accept the offer. He also claimed that the allegations against him were related to the borrowing of Rs 900 crore only.
In 2018, the High Court in London had rejected Mallya’s argument that the case was motivated by political considerations, that he would not receive a fair trial in India and that extradition would infringe on his human rights.
In January this year, a court in Mumbai allowed the banks to utilise Mallya’s movable assets to recover the money they are owed. On January 6, the Supreme Court said Mallya cannot cite the pendency of his plea in the top court to delay insolvency proceedings in courts “anywhere else in the world”.