Editorial

Homeward bound?: on extradition of Vijay Mallya

more-in

By fleeing India, Vijay Mallya has only helped establish the charges against him

The judicial order in the United Kingdom allowing the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya marks a rare victory for India in getting back a fugitive from the law from another jurisdiction. Coming shortly after the United Arab Emirates handed over Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, progress in the Mallya extradition case is another victory for the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is in the throes of a raging controversy over a power tussle involving its two top officers. It must be a matter of satisfaction to the Government of India that the controversy did not affect the outcome of the extradition proceedings before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Mr. Mallya’s lawyers raised doubts about the CBI’s independence, its alleged susceptibility to political interference, the perception that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Congress were using his case to score political points, the possible pressure on Indian courts due to adverse media coverage and, lastly, the conditions in Indian prisons as overcrowded and with appalling facilities for its inmates. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot rejected these issues. On preliminary evidence, in an order that analyses documents and the sequence of events relating to borrowings made by Kingfisher Airlines from IDBI Bank, she concluded that there is a prima facie case against Mr. Mallya as well as some bank officials. The industrialist does have an opportunity to go on appeal before higher courts. But the categorical finding that there appears to be an intention to defraud, and that the end-use of the borrowed money did not match the stated purpose for which the loans were taken, may make it a little harder for him to obtain relief.

It is clear that fleeing India in March 2016 while a consortium of lenders to the defunct airline was seeking to recover about ₹9,000 crore from the company has not helped Mr. Mallya’s cause, beyond buying him time. He has failed to portray himself as a victim of the political system and the media back home. And the verdict, by which his case has been sent to the U.K. Home Secretary for a formal decision on his extradition, reinforces the widely held perception that his company’s financial predicament is due less to the problems that beset the aviation sector at the relevant time and possible poor management, than to his profligate ways and flamboyant lifestyle. In particular, the extradition court accepted evidence that showed that “the offence may have begun with the obtaining of the loans, but continued with the disbursement of the loan proceedings and his subsequent avoidance of his liabilities”. With the court also having spoken of a prima facie case of money-laundering being established, Mr. Mallya’s attempt to play victim has failed. It is only appropriate that he be brought back to India at the earliest and made to submit himself to the legal process.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 22, 2019 8:46:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/homeward-bound/article25727927.ece

Next Story