Fingers crossed in Delhi as Mallya still has options

Fingers crossed in Delhi as Mallya still has options

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya arrives to attend a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London on December 10, 2018. (AFP)

Even after British UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid cleared the extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, officials in New Delhi are keeping their fingers crossed as the tycoon still has several legal options.

Mallya is likely to move the UK High Court to challenge the home secretary's approval. He can also knock the doors of the UK Supreme Court in case the order of the High Court does not go in his favour.

The proceedings in the High Court and Supreme Court may take several months, said officials involved in the extradition process.

Mallya may have already moved the UK High Court challenging the December 10 order of the Westminster Magistrates' Court, clearing the way for the British Home Secretary to decide whether or not to extradite him to India.

The UK High Court was to take up Mallya's appeal against the order of the Westminster Magistrates' Court only after the British Home Secretary takes a decision.

Since Javid ordered his extradition to India on Monday, Mallya now has 14 days to challenge it before the UK High Court.

If Mallya doesn't move the high court, then he will be extradited within 28 days. If Mallya moves the high court, hearing on both appeals – one challenging the order of Westminster Magistrate's Court and another challenging the decision of the home secretary – will take place simultaneously, officials in touch with the UK authorities explained.

Mallya's lawyers failed to sway the Westminster Magistrate's Court with the argument that Mallya's human rights may be violated in case of his extradition, given the conditions of jails.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot was satisfied with the assurances given by the Indian government on the adequate arrangement for medical treatment for the ailing 62-year-old tycoon.

She was also satisfied with the videos and pictures of Barrack No 12 at Arthur Road prison in Mumbai where Mallya would be held after his extradition.

Sources in New Delhi said that Mallya's lawyers may once again urge the UK High Court to assess and factor in the conditions of Arthur Road Prison and other jails in India while deciding on the appeal against extradition.

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits torture, and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Section 87 of the UK Extradition Act 2003 mandates the court to turn down the plea for extradition of any person, in case it was not convinced that the extradition would no way put at risk her or his “convention rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998”.

The UK High Court has in the past overturned the orders of the lower courts to block the extradition of several people to other countries.

If the UK High Court rules in favour of his extradition to India, Mallya can move the UK Supreme Court within 14 days, but only in case High Court certifies that the case involves a point of law of general public importance.

If the UK Supreme Court orders his extradition, Mallya will be sent back to India. If the Supreme Court reverses the decision of the lower courts, he will be set free.

Mallya left India for the UK on March 2, 2016 – the day a consortium of 13 banks, which had given a loan to his company, moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal to step up pressure on him to return the money. In February 2017, India asked the UK to extradite him.

Mallya was arrested by the UK Police and produced before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on April 18 last year for an extradition hearing. He was granted conditional bail.