London: In what is likely to be hyped as a major accomplishment by the BJP government, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered the extradition of Vijay Mallya on charges of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money laundering offences.
At a BJP rally in January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said: “Any person who has cheated or looted the country shall be brought to justice. This is regardless of whether he is in India or abroad.” The order is likely to give a shot in the arm to the Narendra Modi-led government, which faces elections in just a couple of months.
Recently, the government successfully extradited Deepak Talwar, Rajeev Saxena and Christian Michel in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam. This is a major blow to the embattled liquor baron who tried every legal stratagem to block the move – including on grounds of human rights violations and inhuman conditions in Indian jails.
Last year in December, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court had ruled in favour of Mallya’s extradition, Javid, UK’s senior-most Pakistani-origin minister, had two months from that date to sign on that order. A Home Office spokesperson said in London that the UK Secretary of State, after careful consideration, had signed the extradition order.
Mallya now has 14 days from February 4 to apply for leave to appeal to the UK High Court. The baron left India on March 2, 2016, after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 9,000 crore, which he had taken for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. On Friday, Mallya had claimed his group’s properties worth over Rs 13,000 cr had been attached, more than the ‘claimed’ Rs 9,000 cr that he “ran away with,” asking where is justice and how far will it go.
Mallya also claimed that the banks to which he owes money “have given an open licence to their Lawyers in England to pursue multiple frivolous litigations against” him questioning the “brazen” spending of “public money on legal fees”. “Modi Government clears one more step to get Mallya extradited while Opposition rallies around the Saradha Scamsters,” Jaitley tweeted, in an oblique reference to the West Bengal developments.