Confused by Mallya Bail in UK? India’s Top Lawyers Explain The Procedure
Vijay Mallya getting bail in London, soon after the news of his arrest, has led to confusion among many. But according to some of India’s top lawyers, the bail was in line with the legal procedure and the Indian law enforcement agencies had anticipated it.
File photo of Vijay Mallya, Image: Reuters
New Delhi: Vijay Mallya getting bail in London, soon after the news of his arrest, has led to confusion among many. But according to some of India’s top lawyers, the bail was in line with the legal procedure and the Indian law enforcement agencies had anticipated it.
Now, an extradition trial will take place in the English courts before Mallya can be brought to India. In extradition or deportation related cases, diplomacy plays a crucial role. In that sense, the media reports crediting the recent meeting between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and British Prime Minister Theresa May during the former’s London visit are not off the track. Given that India has an extradition treaty with the UK, the process henceforth should be relatively easy.
News18 spoke to three of India’s top lawyers to understand what lies next in the Mallya extradition case. Edited excerpts:
MAHESH JETHMALANI, Lawyer, Bombay High Court:
The bail to Vijay Mallya is certainly not a setback for India and was on expected lines. I don’t know what the British government has in mind, but there are only two options right now: One is deportation, and the other is extradition. Remember, Mallya does not have a passport now. He is living there illegally. I believe he can’t travel outside UK. Given the fact that he is passport less, I would imagine that he is liable for deportation. Extradition would be when he is living there legitimately and somebody wants him back in the country. He may still challenge deportation. But once cannot deny that we were putting relentless pressure as there is enough prima facie evidence against Vijay Mallya.
SATISH MANESHINDE, Lawyer, Bombay High Court:
The bail to Mallya is on expected lines. Now there will be a full-blown extradition trial in the English court. And only if the court finds Mallya guilty of a charge which is punishable under the English law, it is only then he can be extradited. India needs to have a very strong case.
The fact that the extradition proceedings were initiated was not a surprise because the Indian government has transferred the papers to the UK government and I think the Finance Minister had a conversation with the Exchequer of UK. So the process is already on, but one should also realise that Mallya is not someone who is unprepared because he was also warned about these proceedings well in advance. And I am sure he has got a battery of lawyers ready and they will take appropriate action.
Looking at the nature of things, I am not very sure whether India will be successful in extraditing Mallya as he has always maintained that he is not a willful defaulter, he is not someone who has committed any money laundering, or diverted money which was given as an advance by the banks to his personal accounts. None of the properties purchased by him are from these accounts, and he has the full account of all the money that he had utilised for his airline business. The UK court has a strict standard of rule, it is important for the Indian government to prove that there is a solid case of corruption against him.
HITEN VENGAOKAR, Lawyer for the Enforcement Directorate:
Mallya’s bail was expected as he was not prosecuted by a UK court. His release must be on some stringent conditions. Even the Enforcement Directorate in London did not expect his arrest.
Extradition process is not going to be an easy one. We have a Finance Minister with us who is also a very good lawyer and therefore we hope that we will expedite the extradition process and hopefully he will be extradited in less than a month.
If he is arrested under the India-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT), then it will be only the ED who will be able to bring back Vijay Mallya. Once he is brought back, Mallya will be produced before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai and thereafter his later custodies will be taken. ED officials will be sent once they get a go-ahead from the finance ministry.
If Mallya is handed over to the Indian government, then there are very grim chances for a bail by the magistrate of the UK. His arrest was not expected so soon. If he has a good battery of lawyers, we have the Finance Minister with us.
First thing we have to understand is that he was arrested by the Scotland Yard. From the past we have seen that extradition from the UK is very difficult. Once you have a non-bailable warrant, you think he can be extradited. But in the past it has proven to be difficult.