UK denying Vijay Mallya's extradition due to 'Confidential Legal Issues': Centre to Supreme Court
The Centre on 18th January, 2021 informed the Supreme Court that it was ensuring all efforts to extradite Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, who is allegedly accused in bank loan default case of over Rs. 9,000 crore along with his inoperative business Kingfisher Airlines from United Kingdom. However the process was being delayed due to some legal issues involved, as informed by the United Kingdom Government.
The UK Government informed India that the fleeting businessman cannot be extradited until a "confidential legal issue" related to him is resolved. However, the UK government refused to provide details of the proceedings or disclose how long it would take to resolve the matter.
A bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and Ashok Bhushan were hearing a contempt case in which Mallya was held guilty and postponed the matter for further hearing on 15thMarch, 2021, after Solicitor General (SG), Tushar Mehta submitted a letter from the foreign ministry, explaining the British Government's communication on the matter and sought some time to file report on the status of extradition of Mallya.
Mallya, an accused in bank loan default case of over Rs. 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines, is in the UK since March 2016. He is on bail on an extradition warrant executed three years ago by Scotland Yard on 18th April, 2017.
In February 2017, India had submitted an extradition request to the United Kingdom after Mallya made it clear he would not return. In July 2019, the UK High Court allowed him to challenge his extradition order.
The Supreme Court on 31st August, 2020 had directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to guarantee the presence of Mallya to appear before the Court on 5th October, 2020. The Court had also dismissed Mallya's plea seeking a review of the 2017 verdict that convicted him under contempt for transferring $40 million to his children in violation of Court orders.
However, on 5thOctober, 2020 the Centre had stated it was not aware of the secret ongoing proceedings against Mallya in the UK, as the Government of India was non-party to the process. Followed by on 2ndNovember, 2020 the Centre said that the extradition was on hold up due to "a confidential legal issue".
The Court had then ordered the Centre to file a status report on the matter.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, in its affidavit filed previously in the contempt case in which Mallya has been held guilty, mentioned that the pending legal issue in the UK was "outside and apart from the extradition process" and was "confidential and cannot be disclosed".
The SG said that the government is trying its best but the status remains the same and from political executive level to administrative level the matter is being looked into repeatedly.
The letter stated, "Under United Kingdom law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved. As it is judicial in nature, the issue is confidential and you will understand that Her Majesty's Government cannot provide any more details. We also cannot estimate how long this issue will take to resolve. Her Majesty's Government fully understands the importance of this case to the Government of India. I can reassure that Her Majesty's Government is seeking to deal with the issue as quickly as possible".
The letter further specified, "The Government of India has been making consistent efforts for early extradition of Vijay Mallya. In November 2020, Foreign secretary Harshvardhan Shringla raised this issue with Priti Patel, UK Home Secretary who informed that UK's legal complexities were preventing the quick extradition of Vijay Mallya".