The UK High Court has allowed Vijay Mallya to file an appeal to challenge the extradition order issued against him by a lower court. A two-judge bench of the Administrative Court division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London heard an application in this regard on Tuesday. Representatives from the Indian High Commission in London were present in court during the proceedings.
Back in April, Mallya had challenged an order signed off by United Kingdom Home Secretary Sajid Javid, clearing his extradition to India. The 63-year-old fugitive businessman is wanted in India over fraud and money laundering charges amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. The former Kingfisher Airlines boss has already lost a UK High Court "leave to appeal" on paper, leading to an oral hearing of his renewal application.
Vijay Mallya’s permission to appeal against the extradition case has been approved by the Royal Courts of Justice,London. Details awaited. pic.twitter.com/5wzU0KzVpK— ANI (@ANI) July 2, 2019
The case will now go for a full-fledged hearing before the UK High Court. The bench, comprising Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell, has given directions to submit a draft for the appeal to proceed and ascertain the time frame for the hearing.
Mallya's barrister Clare Montgomery reiterated many of her arguments laid out during the extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court last year and characterised aspects of ruling by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot as "plain wrong". She claimed to have "chased down" and countered many of the claims in the case put forward by the Indian authorities and dismissed the conclusion that there was a "clear and unequivocal false statement" made by Mallya about profits being made by a struggling Kingfisher Airlines at the time the loans were being sought.
She also questioned the admissibility of many witness statements and once again highlighted the badly paginated documents submitted by the government of India in the extradition case.
At the end of a year-long extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London last December, Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot had found "clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds" and accepted a prima facie case of fraud and a conspiracy to launder money against Mallya, as presented by the CPS on behalf of the Indian government.
The court had also dismissed any bars to extradition on the grounds of the prison conditions under which the businessman would be held, as the judge accepted the Indian government's assurances that he would receive all necessary medical care at Barrack 12 in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail.
Meanwhile, Mallya has continued to make a series of interventions on social media to offer "100 per cent payback" to state-owned Indian banks to cover his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines' debt. He remains on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard in April 2017, involving a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds and other restrictions on his travel.
Mallya flew out of India on March 2, 2016, after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs. 9,000 crore. However, the he has repeatedly denied allegations that fled the country to avoid justice.
Mallya has stated time and again that he is ready to return the money owed to Indian banks. A consortium of 13 lenders led by the State Bank of India has initiated loan recovery proceedings against him before a special court in Mumbai.
The Special Prevention of Money-Laundering Act Court had declared Vijay Mallya a "fugitive economic offender" at the beginning of this year against a plea made by the Enforecement Directorate (ED). This was the first such case under the fugitive economic offender law. With this, the agency can confiscate Mallya's properties, estimated at more than Rs 12,000 crore.
(Edited by Vivek Punj with agencies' input)