has presented 2,030 pages of what it claims to be evidence against 61-year-old businessman Vijay Mallya to extradite him to India.
This was confirmed at a “case management hearing” at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court
in central London
on Thursday. The government of India
was nearly two months late in giving details to support its original application in January, without which the matter could not progress.
In an unusual move, since the matter is sub-judice, the Indian High Commission in London
combatively took on Mallya by saying: “Evidence regarding the falsities and misrepresentations made by Mallya and officials of the Kingfisher
Airline have also been provided.” The mission stressed there was “a strong prima facie case” against Mallya. It also suggested he had been indulging in “delaying tactics”.
Although excused from personally attending the hearing, Mallya made an appearance. He was dressed in a well-cut blue suit and grey shirt, but without a tie. Looking sun-burnt, his hair was longer than earlier, while he still sported a beard. Unlike last time, when he sat in a dock behind bullet-proof glass, he was seated within the courtroom itself near his lawyer. His face was grim. He made no comment as he left the building. Earlier, he said: “I am advised to maintain silence.” He asserted: “While you may write a factual report, other media will pick it up and twist and turn it.”
Both the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate of the finance ministry have filed charges against him to substantiate India’s request for his extradition. He is accused of colluding with senior executives of the IDBI Bank to obtain a loan of Rs 900 crore for his now defunct Kingfisher
Airline despite the carrier’s “weak financial position and low credit rating”. It is also alleged he unlawfully siphoned off funds abroad from India.
The volume of the purported proof drew a subtle rebuke from the judge, chief magistrate of the court, Emma Arbuthnot. In British courts brevity and clarity are more important than volume. She ordered the lawyers to compress subsequent written arguments before the actual extradition hearing — scheduled to commence on December 4. “I would like to put a limit to the number of pages,” she remarked, “Thirty pages; as an exception 35 pages.”
Opening arguments, the lawyer for the Indian government, Aaron Watkins of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, said: “We have received full service from the Indian government to establish a prima facie case.” He added: “We are ready and willing to proceed.” He sought an early date for the actual extradition hearing to take place. “We would press for such a date,” he stated, “so as to accommodate a lesser time scale”.
Appearing for Mallya, Ben Watson complained he had been served the Indian government’s documents — constituting some 1,530 pages — only the previous night — the same time the judge received these. He said 800 pages of the two-part service was dated June 9. “Don’t know why it took so long?” he asked. The remaining 730 pages were dated June 29. In its initial plea seeking Mallya’s extradition in January, India
had produced a 500-page case.
Watson assured the judge: “Mallya wishes to engage as constructively as possible.” But because complex “money matters” were involved, he requested the court
to stick to December 4 as the start of the actual extradition hearing.
Given the time the India
government had taken to come up with its dossier, he had a dig by asking: “What if the wheels come off, not necessarily on our side?” To this Watkins replied: “We would like to progress this with some rigour; please trust us our wheels won’t come off.”
has altogether submitted three affidavits. The judge asked Watkins to produce a summary — what she called an “opening note” — of the Indian government’s case by July 31. Mallya’s counter to this has to be in by September 11. There will, then, be a further preliminary hearing on September 14.
Mallya continues to be on conditional bail; but was once again allowed not to be personally present for the next hearing.
Mallya’s step mother resigns from MCFL
Ritu Mallya, step mother of Vijay Mallya, has resigned as non-executive director from the board of Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilisers Ltd (MCFL).
MCFL, which is now controlled by Saroj Poddar-led Zuari Group, informed this in a BSE filing.
Ritu Mallya had joined as director in the company’s board in 2014 days after her son resigned.
While Zuari Group holds 53 per cent stake in MCFL, Vijay Mallya-led UB Group has about 22 per cent stake in the company.