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SC to Deliver Mallya's Prison Sentence on July 10, Extradition in Doubt

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated: June 14, 2017, 3:57 PM IST
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SC to Deliver Mallya's Prison Sentence on July 10, Extradition in Doubt
Vijay Mallya, leaves after an extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, in central London. (Photo: Reuters)
New Delhi: The extradition proceedings in a court at London on Tuesday made at least one thing clear – Vijay Mallya will not be in India on July 10 to let the Supreme Court decide his prison sentence under charges of contempt.

On May 9, a two-judge bench led by Justice Adarsh K Goel had held Mallya guilty of contempt of court for concealing his assets and violating other court orders, fixing July 10 for deciding his quantum of punishment.

The top court had directed the government to make sure the founder-owner of Kingfisher Airlines was present at 2 pm on July 10 to hear his jail term. “We direct the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi to secure and ensure presence of Mallya before this Court on July 10,” the bench had ordered.

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But what transpired in the UK court on Tuesday has nullified every possibility of getting Mallya before the apex court on July 10, leaving MHA in a fix on how to justify its failure. Significantly, while admitting Mallya to bail till December 4, the UK magistrate questioned the delay on the part of the Indian government to bring on record the evidence against the flamboyant UB group chairman.

Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot had to adjourn the case only because the Indian government could not adduce the evidence despite a fixed date of hearing, and she had to add that the matter could even go to spring 2018. "If there is still no sign of the evidence, then April 2018 is a possibility (for the full hearing). If we have everything, then it may look like December," observed the UK court.

An adjournment in the foreign court on account of laxity by the Indian government officials is definitely damaging when they are running against the time with a deadline set by the highest court of the land to get Mallya back.

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Notably, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had spearheaded the fight on behalf of a consortium of banks against Mallya, and had repeatedly pressed for pronouncing him guilty of contempt of the court.

Now that the bench has accepted such contentions, how this order will be executed, as the UK court could not propose a timeline for completion of the extradition proceedings, remains to be seen.

On July 10, the government may find it difficult to explain, to the apex court, reasons for deferment of extradition proceedings against Mallya in UK.

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However, since the bench has already expressed its mind about expediting proceedings against Mallya in India, there is still a minor possibility that Supreme Court could pronounce the prison sentence against Mallya in absentia on July 10.

And if such an order is passed on a basis that he would be sentenced to jail as and when he is brought back, another pertinent aspect of dealing with various assets of Mallya, which are currently under the jurisdiction of Indian courts and authorities here, may also be examined during the proceeding.

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Either way, the July 10 hearing is going to be an intriguing one, especially when another man sentenced to a jail term under contempt charge – retired high court judge C S Karnan, is still on the run.
First Published: June 14, 2017, 3:23 PM IST
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