Mallya case gets tougher: UK says no to deportation. India must attempt to extradite
In a major blow to the Indian investigating agencies, UK has refused to deport Vijay Mallya and has instead asked India to seek extradition. This essentially means that the Indian agencies like the CBI and the ED probing money laundering and cases of loan default, may not succeed in getting him back to the country to face investigations. The UK and India signed an extradition treaty in 1993. Despite this, there hasn't been even a single case of any alleged offender being extradited back to India from the UK.
"The UK government has informed that under the 1971 Immigration Act, the UK does not require an individual to hold a valid passport in order to remain in the UK if they have extant leave to remain as long as their passport was valid when leave to remain or enter the UK was conferred," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Mallya's deportation request. Mallya, an NRI, holds a UK residency since 1992.
The MEA had revoked his passport last month on the ED's advice since the flamboyant promoter of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines had been evading summonses. The ED claims that the business tycoon laundered money out of the Rs 900 crore loan his company secured from IDBI Bank. The CBI is also investigating the case. A consortium of banks had moved the Supreme Court against Mallya seeking repayment of the Rs 9,000 crore he owes to them.
However, the MEA says that UK acknowledges the seriousness of the allegations and is keen to assist the Government of India. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament today, said that the government will seek his extradition once the charge-sheet is filed.
UK has asked the Indian government to consider requesting mutual legal assistance or extradition. India signed an extradition treaty with the UK in 1993 while a mutual legal assistance treaty was signed in 1992.
It is understood that the ED will now push for a new extradition request through the diplomatic channel and judicial channels, and is planning to approach Interpol to get a Red Corner Notice against Mallya, which could pave the way for his arrest. However, even then the chances that they will succeed are bleak. In the case of Lalit Modi, Interpol had refused to even issue a Red Corner Notice and had repeatedly blocked the ED's requests by responding with more queries and even insinuating that cases against Modi were politically motivated.
Lalit Modi is also wanted under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. While the ED finally got the court's nod to initiate extradition proceedings against Modi in February this year, according to MEA sources they are yet to approach the ministry, through which all such requests are routed.
"We have not been approached yet," a source in the MEA told Catch. VK Singh, Minister of State MEA, had also told Rajya Sabha that the Ministry was yet to receive any request in this regard from the agencies. UK had snubbed India by not agreeing to deport the IPL czar despite his passport being revoked by the MEA. Similarly in Mallya's case, India was told that revocation of the passport did not mean that he has lost his right to stay in the country.
Meanwhile, getting an accused extradited from the UK is a daunting task if past cases are anything to go by. Take the case of naval room war leak kingpin Ravi Shankaran. India had revoked his passport in 2006, got a Red Corner Notice and initiated extradition proceedings in 2007. While India finally managed to secure his extradition after the then UK Home Secretary Theresa May signed an order for his extradition in 2013, he appealed against it in the High Court. The previous order was overturned by the Court. India did not appeal against the order which ended all hopes of getting him back to face the due process of law.
Even in the case of Raymond Varley, who is facing charges for sexually exploiting hundreds of children in Goa between 1989 and 1991, the extradition requests have been blocked by the local court. The Indian government has appealed against the 2014 district court order which said that, "Finding an extradition order to face trial for a man suffering from dementia needing 'immediate daily support' must be both 'unjust' and 'oppressive' and therefore barred." Varley had told the court that he was suffering from dementia.
Edited by Anna Verghese
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