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The lowdown on Mallya’s extradition

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya  

What is it?

Earlier this week, Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering, following the judgment handed down by Westminster Magistrates Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot in December. She concluded there was a prima facie case against Mr. Mallya, rejected the argument that the case was politically motivated, and labelled him a “glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy.” India wants to bring criminal action against Mr. Mallya, whose business interests have ranged from aviation to liquor, for defaulting on over $1.4 billion in loans Kingfisher took out from Indian banks. Authorities argue misrepresentations were made to acquire those loans, while Mr. Mallya had no intention of repaying them and sought to squirrel away funds and use them in ways that were not permitted by the terms of the loans. However, the ample opportunities for appeal available to Mr. Mallya — who has indicated his intention to pursue them — means the entire process could take another two years, estimates Pavani Reddy, managing partner at Zaiwalla & Co. in London.

Will he be allowed to appeal?

The signing of the order means the appeal process can now be kick-started. Mr. Mallya has two weeks from the signing of the order to seek permission to appeal to the High Court, at which stage that application will be considered by the judge on paper over a 21-day to 3-month period, explains Ms. Reddy. If he manages to get permission to appeal, the appeal process should begin within 76 days, though with options for seeking extensions available to both sides, the appeal could take 6-8 months to begin with. If — following the paper consideration — the judge denies permission to appeal, Mr. Mallya can push for an oral hearing, which could add a further three months to the process. If at this stage, permission is still refused that would end his appeal options.

How long will the process take?

He can seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court — at first instance from the High Court, and if unsuccessful he can seek permission from the Supreme Court itself. If successful at this stage, he would have 28 days to file an appeal, with the ensuing appeal taking over 6-9 months more, estimates Ms. Reddy. He could apply as a last resort to the European Court of Human Rights though such appeals are only granted in very rare cases, she notes. In 2014, only 4 of 833 applications for appeal were granted. The 2003 Extradition Act says he must be extradited within 28 days of the court of appeal’s decision (or when appeal proceedings are discontinued). If the deadline (including any extension) is passed without the extradition happening, he could apply to be discharged from extradition, unless the Home Office could provide a good reason for any delay.

What can India do?

While the applications for permission to appeal can’t be speeded up, an expedited appeals process can be requested if leave is granted, which would involve pushing for an early date in the court’s diary.

Grounds, of course, vary significantly, and include suggestions that the person is being pursued for political motivations because of race or religion and so on.

Others include the passage of time, and rules against double jeopardy. While it is not common for extradition appeals to succeed, last year India successfully appealed a Westminster Magistrate Court’s ruling that discharged the alleged bookie Sanjeev Chawla, who India had been seeking to extradite over the 2002 cricket match fixing scandal.

As per the guarantees offered to the Chief Magistrate, if Mr. Mallya is extradited, he will be held in Barrack 12 of the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai — with certain assurances of space, daylight and medical facilities — both ahead of any trial and after any conviction.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 9:17:23 AM |

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