Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Friday appealed to United Kingdom Home Secretary Priti Patel for an alternative option to remain in the country, reported PTI.
The 65-year-old, whose legal battle against the Indian government’s extradition attempt was rejected by the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court last year, has been residing in the country while on bail. His extradition to India depends on Patel’s approval.
So far, the UK Home Officer has confirmed that a legal procedure is ongoing before the extradition order may be implemented. This raised concern that Mallya had asked for asylum in the United Kingdom, details of which were not confirmed or refuted by the country’s home ministry.
“The extradition was upheld but he [Mallya] is still here because as you know there is another route for him to apply to the Secretary of State [Patel] for status,” Mallya’s counsel Philip Marshall said, according to PTI. He was responding to a question from Deputy Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Nigel Barnett about the status of the extradition.
The claim was made during the bankruptcy hearings at the United Kingdom High Court in London, reported ANI. In this case, Mallya has asked for a significant amount of funds to be released to him to cover his living expenses and the legal fees he needs to pay. The fugitive businessman wants the funds from the sale of a luxury property he owned on an island off the French Riviera, which costs nearly £3 million [approximately Rs 29 crore].
On Monday, in a submission in the Indian Supreme Court, the Centre said the United Kingdom government had informed India that Mallya cannot be extradited until a “confidential legal issue” related to him is resolved. However, the UK government refused to provide details of the proceedings or disclose how long it would take to resolve the matter.
On October 5, the Centre had said it was not aware of the secret ongoing proceedings against Mallya in the UK as the government of India was not a party to the process. Then in November, the Centre reiterated that the extradition was held up due to “a confidential legal issue”. The court had then asked the Centre to file a status report on the matter. On Monday, the court posted the next hearing for the contempt case on March 15, after Mehta sought some time to file another report on the status of Mallya’s extradition.
The liquor baron, who is fighting his extradition to India, faces fraud and money laundering charges in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore resulting from the collapse of his defunct company Kingfisher Airlines.
In February 2017, India had submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom after Mallya made it clear he would not return. In July 2019, 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 has been willing to accept the offer. He also claimed that the allegations against him were related to borrowing only Rs 900 crore.