Mallya won't face risk in Mumbai jail: UK court

Mallya won't face risk in Mumbai jail: UK court

Indian businessman Vijay Mallya is surrounded by the media as he leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. A British court has ordered that charismatic Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya should face extradition to India on financial f

There was "no ground at all" to believe that Vijay Mallya faces any risk in Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail which has been recently "redecorated", a UK court said Monday, rejecting the liquor baron's attempts to show Indian prisons in a bad light and ordered his extradition.

Authorities at the prison have kept a high-security cell ready for the 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss.

The Westminster Magistrates' Court Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot ordered Mallya's extradition, in a major boost to India's efforts to bring back the fugitive wanted for alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores.

The court dismissed the defence's attempts to dispute Indian prison conditions as a bar to his extradition on human rights grounds, saying the video of the Barrack 12 of Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail, where Mallya would be held, "gives accurate portrayal and has been recently redecorated".

"He will have access to personal medical care to manage his diabetes and coronary problems... There was no ground at all to believe that he faces any risk at all (in jail)," the judge ruled.

Delivering the verdict, she said that there was "no sign of a false case being mounted against him".

"Having considered evidence as a whole. There is a case to answer," Judge Arbuthnot said as she ruled that Mallya could be extradited to India to stand trial on the charges brought by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

Addressing the jail conditions in particular, the judge expressed her satisfaction with the evidence provided by the Indian government, describing the video of Barrack 12 at Arthur Road Jail as an accurate portrayal of the conditions which will apply to Mallya.

However, the court made a specific reference to special medical conditions being made available to the businessman, who is described as "far from healthy".

"A spell in custody is likely to help him cut down on alcohol. A regular exercise routine will need to be worked out by his doctors to keep him healthy. I noted that he is taking a whole range of medications, which the GOI (government of India) will ensure he has access to," the judge said.

She made it clear that the assurances provided by the Indian government on prison conditions should not be breached because extradition arrangements work on the basis of trust and any failure to abide by the assurances would "doubtlessly" affect the trust between the court and the government.

"I have no reason at all to think that the GOI would want to breach that trust," she said.

Mallya, wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore, had been on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year.

After being extradited, Mallya will be lodged in one of the high-security barracks located in a two-storey building inside the prison complex, which also housed 26/11 Mumbai attack terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a prison official said in Mumbai.

A high-security cell has been kept ready at the jail located in central Mumbai, he said.

"We are fully prepared to lodge him safely at our correction centre. If he is brought here, we will take care of his safety and security," the official said.

An official from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs earlier said Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail was one of the best in the country.

The comments had come after the UK judge asked Indian authorities to submit a video of the Arthur Road Jail cell where they plan to keep Mallya following his extradition.

The official said that adequate medical facilities were available to treat prisoners in the jail where Mallya would a get full security cover as an under-trial prisoner and it was highly secured in accordance with international standards.