London court allows Mallya to appeal against extradition order

The Royal Courts of Justice has granted permission to embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya to appeal against the UK Home Secretary’s order extraditing him to India to face trial in the alleged fraud and money laundering charges involving Rs 9,000 crore.

A two-member bench of Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell of the Administrative Court division of the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday (local time) heard the argument of Mallya’s defence team.

There was no representation from the Home Secretary and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to argue for the government of India.

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Mallya’s counsel Clare Montgomery told the court that her client would not receive a fair trial in India, be subjected to a “trial by media, and the judicial process would be coloured by political bias; the prison conditions in India would breach his basic human rights.”

Seeking the court’s permission to appeal against the order, Mallya’s counsel also said that the Indian government did not have a prima facie case against him.

While rejecting the first four of the arguments, the court agreed that India still has to do more to prove a prima facie case against the accused.

Montgomery said that the order of Westminster Court Judge Emma Arbuthnot was erroneous in sending his case to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to order his extradition.

“The Government of India submitted fabricated e-mails (evidence) to the court. Instead of questioning the mail’s authenticity, the judge took it as evidence. The e-mails were presented as statements of the witnesses,” she told the court.

Montgomery said that British law requires every document produced in the court to be backed by proof of its origination. “In the face of it, there is no evidence against Mallya,” she submitted.

She also told the court that Mallya was not just charged because he is an economic offender but because of his political views too.

The businessman’s counsel also argued that Kingfisher Airline made its financial position very clear as against Judge Arbuthnots’ ruling that Mallya and the defunct airline misrepresented its financial situation to the consortium of banks.

The 63-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines chief lost a “leave to appeal” in the UK High Court on paper on April 5 against the extradition order, leading to an oral hearing of his renewal application.

On April 11, he applied for an oral hearing to argue his case, which had been listed in a four-hour slot on Tuesday.

Mallya came with his son Siddharth and girlfriend and former Kingfisher Airline hostess Pinki Lalwani to the court.

Mallya, who flew out from India in March 2016, has been living in the United Kingdom since then. The Patiala House Court in New Delhi had already declared Mallya a proclaimed offender for evading summons in January 2018. The court had also issued an open-ended non-bailable warrant against him for evading summons and law of the land in 2017.


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