The London's Westminster Magistrates Court has ordered the extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to India. Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot delivered the verdict on Vijay Mallya's extradition after a year-long trial. The Chief Magistrate found prima facie a case against Vijay Mallya for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. Now the matter of extradition of Vijay Mallya has been referred to the Secretary of State in United Kingdom. Mallya now has 14 days before he appeals before the higher court in the UK.
After the verdict, Mallya said: "My legal team will review the judgement in detail and consider various options and then I will decide going forward. There is nothing to be shocked about." On asking if he regrets going to the UK, Mallya said: "At the end of the day that's what the courts are for, that's how lawyers thrive. Do I regret being in a situation where I'm reading legal papers and paying legal fees? Yes, I do. I could have done something more productive with my time."
There was "no ground at all" to believe that Vijay Mallya faces any risk in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail which has been recently "redecorated", the UK court said, rejecting the liquor baron's attempts to show Indian prisons in a bad light and ordered his extradition.
The court dismissed the defence's attempts to dispute Indian prison conditions as a bar to his extradition on human rights grounds, saying the video of the Barrack 12 of Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail, where Mallya would be held, "gives accurate portrayal and has been recently redecorated".
"He will have access to personal medical care to manage his diabetes and coronary problems... There was no ground at all to believe that he faces any risk at all (in jail)," the judge ruled. Delivering the verdict, she said that there was "no sign of a false case being mounted against him".
"Having considered evidence as a whole. There is a case to answer," Judge Arbuthnot said as she ruled that Mallya could be extradited to India to stand trial on the charges brought by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.
Hailing the UK court order, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the offender who benefited during the UPA rule is being brought to the book by the NDA government. BJP chief Amit Shah said the credit of a UK court ordering extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to India "entirely" goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who ensured that agencies were unrelenting in their pursuit of the man who "bled" banks here.
Earlier, before appearing in the court, Vijay Mallya told reporters he wanted to disprove the narrative that he "stole" the money and had made a settlement offer. On being asked if his settlement offer of 100 per cent principal amount was genuine, Vijay Mallya said: "There is nothing genuine or ingenuine. Please understand that the offer has been made in a court of law. Nobody disrespects a court of law."
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines owner has been on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April 2017. Following the Chief Magistrate's verdict, the UK Home Office for the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, will announce the final order. Moreover, both the parties will have the right to file for a permission to appeal in the Chief Magistrate's ruling in the UK High Court.
Manoj Sharma with PTI inputs