One of the most sought after fugitive in India and the embattled liquor baron, Vijay Mallya has received a body blow with country’s top court rejecting his application seeking leave to appeal his extradition to India.
The 64-year-old businessman, who is facing charges of fraud and money laundering related to loans for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, had lost his appeal against extradition in the High Court last month.
The verdict paves way for UK Home Office to clear his return to India inside 28 days as per the terms of the India-UK Extradition Treaty.
Mallya’s appeal has been set aside on counts – hearing oral submissions, grant a certificate on the questions as drafted, and grant permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The ball is in Home Secretary Priti Patel’s court as she is the one who will be certifying the extradition order, expected within the 28 days time limit.
Mallya has been, of late, repeatedly asking Indian government to allow him to replay his dues to PSU banks. He tweeted, “Please take my money unconditionally and close."
Theoretically, the flamboyant businessman can approach the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France. He can approach the court claiming that he will not get a fair trial in India.
However, what may come as a temporary relief for Mallya is the severe outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic as UK is obliged to protect human rights under the European Convention that deals with inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
However, the chances of his case getting the ECHR attention is extremely low as Mallya would need to convince them on the same grounds only which have been already rejected both by the High Court and Supreme Court.
This eventually leaves very little elbow room for Mallya and the rejection of his plea marks a major shift in his trial. The judicial victory also validates the arguments by the Indian investigating agencies like the CBI and the ED who have been pursuing him since his arrest in UK in April 2017.
During the High Court hearing, Justice Irwin and Laing while rejecting Mallya’s plea had said, “We have held that there is a prima facie case, both of misrepresentation and of conspiracy, and thus there is also a prima facie case of money laundering.”
Mallya, since running away from India in 2016, has been based in the UK.