The Indian government’s efforts to bring back Vijay Mallya through the expeditious route of deportation came a cropper when the United Kingdom on Monday expressed its inability to accede to the request.
Through a note verbale to the High Commission, it informed the investigating agencies of its inability to deport Mallya despite the fact that his diplomatic passport was revoked by the External Affairs Ministry on April 24. The note is a less formal diplomatic communication prepared in the third person. It is usually unsigned.
However, according to senior government sources, the UK authorities have agreed to consider the government’s request for Mallya’s extradition under the 1993 treaty with India or any other necessary assistance under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) signed in 1992.
Has a valid UK visa
A non-resident Indian, Mallya has a UK residency permit since 1992. The Indian government has been told that though his passport has been cancelled, he has been staying there on a valid UK visa. The liquor baron’s name also figures in the UK electoral rolls. He lives in a three-storey mansion named Ladywalk at Tewin in Hertfordshire, not far from London.
Like Lalit Modi case
Indian agencies are worried that Mallya’s case might go the Lalit Modi way. In Lalit Modi’s case too, they have not been able to make headway in bringing him back. The Interpol has also not accepted the request for a Red Notice against him.
As deportation is an executive action, it is considered to be a quicker process than extradition, in which investigating agencies have to establish prima facie culpability of the person. Besides, the accused has recourse to several defences under the extradition treaty.
Now, the extradition of Mallya from the UK will be possible only when he is accused, or convicted, of an act recognised as criminal offence in both the countries. The extradition treaty empowers the UK authorities to make provisional arrests in urgent cases.
Ground for extradition
However, Article 9 of the treaty lists the grounds available to an accused person on which a request of extradition can be refused. The person can, therefore, challenge the Indian government’s move in the court there.
In case the accused satisfies UK authorities that the extradition has been sought for prosecution or punishment on account of some bias, or the alleged offence is of a trivial nature or that the accusation has not been made in good faith, the request can be turned down.
The 1992 MLAT has been signed for extending assistance in the investigation and prosecution of crime and the tracing, restraint and confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime (including crimes involving currency transfers) and terrorists.
The Enforcement Directorate — which has approached the Interpol seeking issuance of Red Notice against Mr. Mallya — had earlier requested the Indian government to initiate deportation proceedings after his passport was suspended on the basis of a non-bailable warrant issued against him by a Mumbai court.
Mallya, the promoter of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines that owes over Rs. 9,000 crore to nationalised banks, flew out of the country on March 2. The ED served three notices, seeking his personal appearance to join the probe in the alleged Rs.900-crore IDBI Bank money laundering case registered against him, the airline and others. However, he did not turn up, leading the agency to get an arrest warrant against him.
In July 2015, the Central Bureau of Investigation had registered a case against Mr. Mallya, Kingfisher Airlines and others.
(This news report was first published in The Hindu online edition)