The High Court in London has rejected an appeal by embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya to overturn a decision to extradite him to India to face charges of defrauding a consortium of Indian banks of more than Rs 9,000 crore.
The decision – by the UK’s second-highest court – effectively means that Mallya’s options for fighting his extradition are nearly exhausted and he faces the prospect of being sent back to Mumbai to face a slew of charges resulting from the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines in 2012.
He now has 14 days to seek permission to appeal the High Court’s decision to the UK Supreme Court. If he does not, British Home Secretary Priti Patel will make a final decision on his extradition.
Mallya’s legal team argued in the High Court that the Indian government had failed to prove a prima facie case against their client and raised a number of issues with the decision made in 2018 by Judge Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates Court in London.
The two-bench panel at the High Court, however, dismissed the claim, stating, “We consider that while the scope of the prima facie case found by the judge (Arbuthnot’s) is in some respects wider than that alleged by the respondent in India there is a prima facie case in which, in seven important respects, coincides with the allegations.”
The ruling follows weeks of public declarations by Mallya who has ramped up his appeal to the authorities in India to accept 100 per cent of the principal amount owed to them, appeals that have fallen on deaf ears in India where the authorities are determined to have him returned to the country to face charges.
He has consistently maintained that the failure of Kingfisher Airlines was a business failure and not a case of fraud.
Mallya insists he is innocent of the charges, which he claims are politically motivated.