London: United Kingdom Home Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered the extradition of Vijay Mallya on charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering offences, the Home Office said on Monday, in a major blow to the embattled liquor baron.
Case against Mallya in UK
The 63-year-old businessman had been found to have a case to answer before the Indian courts by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on 10 December 2018.
Javid, the UK’s senior-most Pakistani-origin minister, had two months from that date to sign off on that order.
The UK Home Office confirmed on Monday that after considering all matters, the minister had signed Mallya’s extradition order on Sunday.
“On 3 February, the Secretary of State, having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India,” a Home Office spokesperson said.
“Vijay Mallya is accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money laundering offences,” the spokesperson added.
Mallya is on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard in April 2017 after the Indian authorities brought fraud and money laundering charges amounting to Rs 9,000 crores against the former Kingfisher Airlines boss.
Mallya now has 14 days from 4 February to apply for leave to appeal to the UK High Court.
The former Kingfisher Airlines’ boss has earlier indicated that he intends to file an application to appeal against the Westminster Magistrates’ Court verdict in favour of his extradition to India.
The businessman had told reporters soon after the ruling by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot in London in December 2018 that he would consider the verdict in detail and decide his next course of action. His legal team later confirmed that he will seek leave to appeal against the court order.
“Dr Mallya has now been able to consider the court’s decision and intends to file an application for permission to appeal at the appropriate time,” said Anand Doobay, Partner at UK-based Boutique Law LLP, who has been Mallya’s solicitor through the extradition process.
Chronology of extradition of Vijay Mallya
Following is the chronology of the case and its origin.
9 May 2005
United Breweries Holdings Limited (UBHL) Chairman Vijay Mallya’s luxury airline – Kingfisher Airlines – starts commercial operations.
A consortium of Indian banks led by State Bank of India approached United Breweries Holdings Ltd for the payback of a loan amounting to Rs 6,493 crore on behalf of Kingfisher Airlines.
3 March 2016
Mallya fled India and took refuge in London.
India sent extradition request to UK.
18 April 2017
Scotland Yard arrests Mallya on an extradition warrant after he surrenders at a central London police station. He is released on bail within hours after providing a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds.
13 June 2017
The first case management hearing takes place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in the extradition case. Mallya’s bail is extended until December 2017, for the start of the extradition trial.
6 July 2017
Mallya appears for a hearing in the case despite an exemption from appearance in court.
14 September 2017
Another case management hearing in the case when Mallya’s defence team informs the court of plans to depose six experts they intend to rely upon in their evidence.
3 October 2017
Mallya is re-arrested in a money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and is released on the same bail conditions, as the CBI and ED cases are clubbed together for the purposes of the extradition trial.
20 November 2017
A pre-trial hearing in the case takes note of additional “supplemental” charges of money laundering to the previous charges of fraud, amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores.
4 December 2017
Mallya’s extradition trial begins.
5 December 2017
Mallya’s defence team lays out its counter-arguments, claiming there was no evidence to support the “nonsensical” case of fraud against their client.
7 December 2017
The hearing resumes with Mallya’s defence claiming his offer to pay back nearly 80 per cent of the principle loan amount owed to the Indian banks, led by State Bank of India, had been rejected.
11 December 2017
Mallya’s defence continues deposing its experts and tries to establish that the case against him is “politically motivated”.
12 December 2017
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) takes Mallya’s defence team’s political expert to task, claiming that he had relied on flawed material to discredit Indian investigation agencies like the CBI and ED in his testimony.
13 December 2017
Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where Mallya is to be held on extradition, comes into focus as the defence seek to discredit its suitability through the witness statements of UK-based prison service expert Dr Alan Mitchell and the dismiss his claims.
14 December 2017
Both sides conclude the evidence stage of the trial, with the case moving into 2018 to complete all procedures.
11 January 2018
The hearing returns for the judge to hear arguments for and against the admissibility of certain evidence in the case.
16 March 2018
The judge notes that it is “blindingly obvious” to her that rules were being broken by Indian banks, which sanctioned some of the loans to the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines as the case returns for hearing.
27 April 2018
The CBI gets a boost as the judge confirms that the bulk of the evidence submitted by the Indian authorities in the extradition case will be deemed admissible.
31 July 2018
The court asks the Indian authorities to submit a video of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai to allay all doubts over its suitability as the case edges towards conclusion.
12 September 2018
At the final hearing in the case, Mallya tells media outside the court that he met finance minister Arun Jaitley before he left India in March 2016. Jaitley instantly issues a statement to dismiss the comments as factually incorrect .
10 December 2018
Westminster Magistrates’ Court judge ordered the extradition of Mallya. The UK Home Secretary will have to sign Mallya’s extradition order within two months. However, Mallya’s defence team has a chance to appeal in higher courts in the UK against the verdict.
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid orders Mallya’s extradition to India.
Significance of this extradition for PM Modi
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assumed power in 2014, campaigning against a plethora of cases of corruption against the second Congress-led UPA government, and fashioned himself as the nation’s chowkidar (gatekeeper) who would not let stealing of Indian money, the escape of Vijay Mallya had caught the current government unawares.
Ever since, INC president Rahul Gandhi coined a slogan “chowkidar chor hai” (the gatekeeper is himself a thief). It mattered little that the origin of the banking crisis lay in the UPA years. As the BJP spent a lot of time counting the allegations against the previous government, it was time people caught a glimpse of its own record of fight against corruption.
In the meantime, the non-performing assets or NPA of India’s public sector banks made news headlines, with Mallya-like characters’ flamboyant lifestyle appearing as an eyesore in the midst of claims by the BJP-led NDA government that it has finally delivered the country from corruption. Whereas much bigger villains burdened India’s banks with bad loans, few cases of economic offenders and fugitives became as high-profile as Vijay Mallya, businessman of designer diamond jewellery Nirav Modi and his relative Mehul Choksi.
Legal resolution of defaults like that by Bhushan Steel or Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s explanations would mean little to voters as optics matter the most in elections — a purpose served partially by the extradition of Mallya. And if Jaitley’s reasoning does not reach the electorate at large, former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s would hardly make an election speech. The Narendra Modi government’s ability to bring back the two other fugitives named above would cement the prime minister’s public image of an honest man at the helm.
Yet, the extradition of Mallya is bound to make it to the hustings as the prime minister would, while holding aloft this ‘feat’ as a trophy, sound more credible when he assures the people that Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi would be dragged back to the country by some or the other means to face its law.