Legal complications - details of which cannot be shared due to its "confidential" nature - are delaying business tycoon Vijay Mallya's extradition from the United Kingdom, the UK has told India, according to an External Affairs Ministry letter shared with the Supreme Court on Monday.
"We are trying our best to (get) Vijay Mallya extradited but, (because of) legal complexities in the UK, status is the same," the government told the court when asked for an update on the extradition of the business tycoon, who is wanted for defaulting on Rs 9,000 crore in loans.
"The Ministry of External Affairs has been informed by the UK government 'there is a further legal issue that needs resolving before Mallya can be extradited. Under United Kingdom law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved'," the ministry's letter said.
The letter quoted the UK government as saying: "As it (the "legal issue") 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."
The UK government said: "... fully understands the importance of this case to the Government of India... Her Majesty's Government is seeking to deal with the issue as quickly as possible."
The court was told the issue had been raised with the UK's Home Secretary in January. "From political and executive to administrative level... the issue is being looked at," the court was told.
The two-judge bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ashok Bhushan will hear the case next on March 15.
In November, when asked the same question, the government gave an identical answer, saying "... been told there's a confidential legal issue... following which Vijay Mallya can be extradited".
"No particular timeline has been indicated to us and we continue to take up this issue with UK authorities," Anurag Srivastava, the External Affairs spokesperson, said.
The government was responding to requests for an update during a related matter - a contempt of court hearing involving Mallya transferring US$40 million, to his son Siddharth and daughters Leanna and Tanya, in violation of court orders.
The 65-year-old Mallya, who has been in the UK since March 2016, is fighting extradition in a case involving the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines. A British court cleared the extradition in May but it has been delayed by "secret proceedings", the government told the Supreme Court last month.
Vijay Mallya, who denies the charges against him, has repeatedly said Indian banks can take back 100 per cent of the principal amount owed to them.