Crucial hearing in Mallya's extradition case today

Vidya Ram London | Updated on July 31, 2018

File photo: Vijay Mallya at Westminster Magistrates Court in London.   -  Reuters

The Indian government’s efforts to extradite Vijay Mallya enters a crucial phase on Tuesday, as the two sides present final submissions in the long-running extradition case.

The case was initially set to continue in mid-July but was further delayed, after a hearing in late April. A ruling is expected later this year, though this will be appealable. The hearing is set to kick off at 2.30 pm India time.

The hearing will see both sides make oral closing submissions. Judge Emma Arbuthnot, Chief Magistrate at Westminster Magistrates Court, had initially indicated her preference for written submissions but the defence had expressed its eagerness for an oral hearing, pointing to the significant public interest in the case.

The extradition hearing kicked off last December, and has focused largely on a series of loans from IDBI Bank to Kingfisher Airlines – from the way in which these were obtained to how – in the words of the prosecution – Mallya allegedly sought to “squirrel away” the money.

Mallya stands accused of de-frauding the consortium of public sector banks and money laundering, though during the hearings, the prosecution focused mostly on the issue of fraud.

Business failure

Defence barrister Clare Montgomery challenged the prosecution’s contention that there was a prima facie case against Mallya, suggesting instead that it was a case of business failure rather than fraud.

'Politically motivated'

She also sought to portray the case against him as politically motivated – with a heated exchange at one point over the neutrality of the CBI and the decision-making processes of the Supreme Court.

A defence witness also raised concerns over the conditions likely to be faced in India by Mallya in Arthur Road Jail, despite government assurances guaranteeing specific conditions at Barrack 12 of the jail.

However, in what was seen as a positive for the Indian government, in the most recent hearing in April, the judge ruled that most of the evidence produced by the prosecution to date would be admissible, save for an email conversation covered by legal professional privilege.

She also described as “very helpful” a detailed note on the conspiracy charges facing Mallya should he be extradited to India, as well as a schedule of notional charges.

Mallya breaks his silence

In late June, Mallya broke his lengthy silence on the case to publicly slam the “politically motivated” case and “blatantly false” allegations made against him, pointing to his attempt, via the Karnataka High Court to sell 13,900 crore of assets to repay creditors.

Mallya also made public letters he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in April 2016, expressing his pain at becoming the “poster boy of all bank defaults, accused of looting public money and fleeing the nation''.

Last week Mallya’s attempt to lodge an appeal in the Court of Appeal against a commercial court judge’s ruling in the lawsuit brought by the consortium of banks was unsuccessful.

Mallya had challenged the registration of the Karnataka Debt Recovery Tribunal’s (DRT) 2017 order against him in the UK, and the implementation of a World Wide Freezing order that prevented him from removing or diminishing his assets in England and Wales.

A separate order gave the High Court enforcement officer the authority to enter Mallya’s country residence to search or takeover goods belonging to him.

Published on July 31, 2018

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