Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, whom India has sought to be extradited for trial in a Rs 9,000-crore bank loan default case, on Tuesday appeared before a Westminster magistrate court and later told media outside that he was delighted that he would be able to put up his case before a fair and impartial court here.
Accompanied by his son Siddharth, the 61-year old industrialist who fled India 15 months ago rejected all allegations of default of loans against him and denied that he was called a thief inside the court.
This was the first hearing before a magistrate in what is called "management" proceedings before the actual trial begins. Mallya was asked to sit in the place where people facing trial are made to sit. His name was called out and his date of birth mentioned by way of confirming his identity.
Mallya, who owes as much as Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of Indian banks, fled to Britain in March last year. India is seeking his extradition for which the procedure has already begun and a team of the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation is chalking out the process.
When he sought a barrier to keep away inquisitive television reporters from thrusting their mikes before him outside the court, the judge permitted that he may not be present at the next hearing on July 5.
During the proceedings, Mallya's lawyers told the magistrate that the Indian government was coming up with a second extradition request which he would like to go through before giving his submissions. They wanted that the case be deferred till next year. The magistrate, however, indicated that the case could be placed for regular trial in December.
When the magistrate enquired with the crown prosecution service about cooperation from India, he was told that there was good cooperation and coordination between the two sides.
Outside the court, the chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines by and large remained composed while answering media questions except when reporters tried to provoke him a couple of times.
"You can keep dreaming about billions of pounds, provided you have facts to justify your questions. Otherwise, don't put questions. So don't ask irrelevant questions," he said.
When a British reporter asked him about the multiple flats he has in the UK, he shot back, "Multiple homes in UK, I have been living here since 1992."
Mallya said that he was here to defend himself as was expected.
But when a reporter asked him about his being called a thief inside the court, Mallya said: "I was not called a thief. As two people in a drunken state yelled at me, didn't you notice that there were several others who wished me well."
"I am delighted that I can put forward my case before an impartial court," he said.
Earlier before going into the court, Mallya said he had not eluded any court of law and denied all alegations levelled against him.
When a questioner noted that he has been in Britain for the last 15 months and was eluding courts in India, he said: "I have not eluded any court. It is my lawful duty to be here and I am here (London court)."
Asked what he expected would happen in the court, he said: "I have no expectations and you can hear what the court says."
Mallya also said he had "enough evidence" to fight the case, but parried a question whether he fears that a trial in India would be unfair to him.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)