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Thursday, October 22, 2020

UK High Court Dismisses Vijay Mallya’s Appeal In Extradition Matter

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R Rajagopalan
This writer based in India is a holder of Distinguished Journalist category of Parliament of India over 40 years. The views and opinions expressed in this exclusive story are from the writer and not binding on the Indian Telegraph.

In a significant achievement for Indian authorities, The High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division, London (UK) has today dismissed the appeal of fugitive accused Mr. Vijay Mallya.

Mr. Vijay Mallya is arraigned as an accused in case no. RC BSM 2015 E0006 relating to a fraud of Rs. 900 Crore committed on IDBI Bank by M/s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. & others. After investigation a charge sheet was filed against Mr. Vijay Mallya, M/s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. and others u/s 120 B r/w 420 IPC and 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of PC Act, 1988 on 24.01.2017. After further investigation, a supplementary charge sheet was also filed against Mr. Mallya and others on 01.06.2017.

As Mr. Mallya was in London since March’2016, a request for his extradition was forwarded to the UK authorities on 09.02.2017 through diplomatic channels. The extradition folder contained the details of evidences against the fugitive under a duly sworn affidavit and attested by the Court of Special Judge, CBI Cases, Mumbai.

The extradition of Mr. Mallya was sought to face trial in the case on the following allegations  inter-alia : Misrepresentations made to the IDBI bank to induce the said bank to sanction and disburse loans of Rs. 150 Crore on 07.10.2009, Rs. 200 Crore on 04.11.2009 and Rs. 750 Crore on 03.12.2009. These included dishonest and deliberate misrepresentations and concealment of brand value of Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., inflation of the security value, false promises of equity infusion and future rosy projections, among others.

Dishonest use of the loans so sanctioned and disbursed by IDBI bank and diversion thereof against the terms of sanction.

Wilful and intentional default on the loans availed and continuing intention to cheat manifest in alienation of personal assets in violation of the personal guarantee agreement, removal of funds from personal account, alienation of assets of UBHL, causing impediments  in the banks recovery efforts etc.

Based on the request, Mr. Vijay Mallya was arrested by UK authorities on 20.04.2017. The extradition case was heard by Senior District Judge Ms. Emma Arbuthnot from 04.12.2017 to 14.12.2017 during which a number of defence witnesses/experts were examined. Post hearing, further clarifications were provided with regard to the various issues and submissions were made by both sides on admissibility of evidence, prison condition and conspiracy issues. Vide order dated 10.12.2018, Ms. Emma Arbuthnot recommended the case to Secretary of state to consider the extradition of Mr. Mallya to India to face trial in the case.

Vide order dated 04.02.2019, the Secretary of State ordered extradition of Mr. Vijay Mallya to India to face trial. Mr. Vijay Mallya filed an appeal against the order dated 10.12.2018 of SDJ and order dated 04.02.2019 of the Secretary of State. The appeal was heard by Mr. William Devis J and dismissed vide order dated 05.04.2019.

Pursuant to dismissal of appeal, Mr. Mallya filed a renewal application and the renewed appeal was heard on 02.07.2019 by Mr. Leggatt L J and Mr. Popplewell J.  After hearing, the appeal was dismissed on grounds of extraneous considerations and prison condition and was permitted on one ground i.e. the ground of prima facie case vide order dated 02.07.2019.

The hearing of Prima facie appeal (renewed) was held from 11.02.2020 to 13.02.2020 and after detailed arguments from both sides, the order was reserved by Justice Irwin and Mrs. Justice Elisabeth Laing. The judgement has since been pronounced today i.e.20.04.2020 wherein the appeal of Mr. Mallya was dismissed. While dismissing the appeal, the judges have concluded that there was a prima facie case of conspiracy to defraud, misrepresentation, conspiracy and also a prima facie case of money laundering against Mr. Vijay Mallya. The UK High Court has highlighted 7 important aspects of prima facie case, as found by SDJ coincides of allegations in India.

The judgement of UK High Court is a significant achievement in the context of CBI’s efforts to curb corruption and is a reminder that fugitives, who have eluded the process of law after commission of large value frauds, cannot consider themselves as above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions. The judgement also vindicates the painstaking investigation by CBI, especially since Mr. Mallya had raised various issues with regard to the admissibility of evidence, the fairness of investigation itself and extraneous consideration, with a view to divert attention from his own acts.

CBI gracefully acknowledges the painstaking and continuous efforts made by the counsels of Crown Prosecution service in forcefully presenting Government of India’s Case and also the efforts of various Govt.  agencies, especially officers of High Commission of  India, London, Ministry of Home Affairs and Prisons Department of Govt. of Maharashtra in coordinating the extradition trial, timely submission of evidences and assurances and prompt follow up of the case at all stages.

Today’s development is a significant achievement in the continuing war against fugitives in financial crimes who were attempting to evade the process of law in our country. It is also further validation of the painstaking and meticulous investigation and thorough follow-up by the CBI.

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