- Vijay Mallya faces fraud charges amounting to 9,000 crores
- UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid had cleared his extradition to India
- His case will now proceed to full-hearing stage at the UK High Court
The UK High Court in London on Tuesday permitted fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to appeal against a lower court's verdict for his extradition.
The 63-year-old liquor baron had appealed against an order signed off by United Kingdom Home Secretary Sajid Javid, clearing his extradition to India to face fraud and money-laundering charges amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. A two-judge bench of the Administrative Court division of the Royal Courts of Justice, comprising Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell, heard the application filed in April.
The ruling came as a reprieve for Vijay Mallya, who has lost a UK High Court "leave to appeal" on paper and led to an oral hearing of his renewal application this week.The case will now proceed to the full-hearing stage at the UK High Court.
"I'm glad. I won on the prima facie. The division bench felt that the (Westminster) magistrate's decision is appealable. It means a lot to me," news agency ANI quoted Vijay Mallya as telling mediapersons soon afterwards.
Later, he tweeted reiterating that he was being falsely charged. "God is great. Justice prevails. A Division Bench of the English High Court with two senior Judges allowed my application to appeal against the Magistrates Judgement on the prima facie case and charges by the CBI. I always said the charges were false," he said.
The liquor baron, who attended the proceedings along with his son Sidharth and partner Pinky Lalwani, had earlier said that he felt "positive" about the outcome of this hearing.
"After all the mockery made of me I would respectfully ask those interested parties to focus on the Divisional Bench Judgement in England today allowing me to challenge the core of the false prima facie case filed against me by the CBI. Witch-hunt?" Vijay Mallya wrote in another tweet.
Despite the good Court result for me today, I once again repeat my offer to pay back the Banks that lent money to Kingfisher Airlines in full. Please take the money. With the balance, I also want to pay employees and other creditors and move on in life.— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) July 2, 2019
At the end of a year-long extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London last December, Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot had found "clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of loan funds" and accepted a prima facie case of fraud and conspiracy to launder money against Vijay Mallya, as presented by the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Indian government.
The court had also dismissed objections to extradition on the grounds of "inhuman" prison conditions in India, with the judge accepting the Indian government's assurances that he would receive all necessary medical care at barrack no. 12 in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail.
During the proceedings on Tuesday, Vijay Mallya's counsel Clare Montgomery had reiterated many of the arguments she had laid out during the extradition trial at the Westminster Magistrate's court, and claimed that multiple aspects of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot's verdict were "plain wrong". "The conclusions are in effect a false dichotomy... The judge failed to recognise that this was a straightforward business failure," the barrister said.
She also questioned the admissibility of many witness statements and highlighted the "badly paginated documents" submitted by the Indian government in the extradition case.
Vijay Mallya flew out of India on March 2, 2016, after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. However, the liquor baron has repeatedly denied allegations that his act amounted to fleeing the country, and maintains that he is ready to return the money owed to Indian banks. A consortium of 13 financial institutions led by the State Bank of India has initiated loan recovery proceedings against him before a special court in Mumbai.
(With inputs from Agencies)