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The United Kingdom Court decided on extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya and ordered him to be extradited to India. Liquor Baron is currently in the UK, out on bail issued to him last year by the court on the extradition warrant.

Facts Of The Case

Kingfisher Airlines owned by Mr Mallya, by late 2008 and early 2009 was low on cash reserves and suffering heavy losses on account of price wars and high fuel prices. Kingfisher airlines borrowed a huge amount of money from the IndianBanks, but the money borrowed was not properly used and the executives ofcompany failed to bring back the profit-making days. There was no improvementin the financial position of Kingfisher by late 2009, so another loan wasgranted to Kingfisher in hope of saving the airlines as during this timeaviation sector in India was facing huge losses. My mid-2010 Kingfisher did notpay any interest to the banks and a debt restructuring was proposed. Even after debt restructuring, Mr. Mallya carried out steps to avoid the restructuring plan and even made third-party interest in his assets which was contrary to debt restructuring agreement. 

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The government of India before the court in UK alleged that Mr. Mallya had entered into a conspiracy with certain bank officials to defraud and Indian Banks by borrowing huge sums of money with no intention of paying back the money as and when required. The second Allegation was that Mr. Mallya made false representations to the banks which he knew were or might be untrue or misleading by supplying false information to the bank in respect of profitability and value of securities. The third allegation was of money laundering of the loan amount. According to Indian Banks, Vijay Mallya owes them a total of Rs. 9,000 Crore.

Vijay Mallya, on the other hand, did not produce any documentary evidence to clear his name rather said contended that he was being made a victim of political intrigue and he was being targeted just because Indian Banks were struck with a massive problem of Bad Debts. He also contended that Indian prisons were not safe for him. Furthermore, he relied on the testimony of an expert witness who said that it is very natural that when a sector is under financial trouble a big company goes bankrupt. Certain other expert witnesses were called to prove that his apprehensions on condition of Indian prison and him being a victim of political intrigue.

The decision of the Case

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot while deciding the case said that there exists a prima facie case against Mr. Vijay Mallya for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering and ordered his extradition. Moreover, Chief Magistrate added that

“there is no evidence that the prosecution is politically motivated. I do not believe that Courts in India are there to do what politicians tell them to do. Courts are used to dealing with high profile cases which are accompanied by often by ill-advised political commentary.”

Regarding the condition of prisons the court after viewing the video of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai said it was “an accurate portrayal of the conditions which will apply” CBI and the Indian Finance Minister welcomed this decision, However, legal experts say that the entire extradition process may take another 5-6 months and Mr. Mallya still has the right to appeal against this decision in the Court of appeals and subsequently, move to the Supreme Court. So far, in the last 26 years only one person has been successfully extradited from U.K to India.

Author’s Opinion

Mr.Mallya tweeted a few days back he is ready to pay the money he owes but the tweet has failed to inspire any confidence in Indian Banks. Judgment has been delivered but all the legal remedies are still not exhausted. Only time will tell if Indian Banks will get their money not. Even if he returns to India which is a long way to go, the process of recovery of money moves at a snail’pace in India.

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