New Delhi: India on Thursday asked Britain to ensure early extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, wanted back home in a bank default case of over Rs9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi sought early conclusion of the extradition process of Mallya, who has been declared a proclaimed offender by a Mumbai court, during his talks here with his UK counterpart Patsy Wilkinson, the second permanent secretary in the British Home Office, official sources said. “We have discussed how to remove the bottlenecks in processing extradition requests. The process involved in matters of extradition and the need to further improve them were also discussed,” home ministry adviser Ashok Prasad said. Though Prasad maintained no specific case was discussed at the meeting, some other official sources said the Mallya case was indeed raised by the union home secretary.
Prasad said Mallya’s case was subjudice. The presence of certain Khalistani militant elements in the UK also came up for discussion. “We discussed the issue of Khalistani militants based in the UK and they have promised to look into it,” Prasad said. Both sides agreed to address the challenges of illegal migrants and resolved to work together to ensure smooth return of Indians overstaying in the UK after proper verification. Prasad said the Indian side brought up visa-related difficulties faced by Indian students, skilled professionals and dependents of Indian diplomats which the UK official assured would be looked into. “Both India and the UK laid emphasis on cooperation on anti-terrorism mechanism and to strengthen mutual support to check cyber crimes. Both sides agreed to finalise these arrangements,” Prasad said.
Sharing of intelligence inputs on a real time basis, particularly with regard to the Islamic State (IS), both from IS-held territories and modules being busted in the UK and Europe, were discussed at the two-hour meeting, sources said. Counter-terrorism cooperation between India and Britain, besides a host of other issues, figured during deliberations. Matters relating to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, strengthening of the intelligence sharing mechanism and visa-related issues were also deliberated upon, the sources said.
61-year-old Mallya, who has been living in Britain since last year, was arrested by Scotland Yard last month at India’s request for his extradition. Within hours of his arrest, Mallya, who is accused of cheating and fraud, was released on bail by a London court. The UK’s crown prosecution service (CPS) will argue the case on behalf of the Indian authorities when it comes up before the court. Mallya, whose defunct Kingfisher Airlines allegedly owes more than Rs9,000 crore to various banks, had fled India on 2 March, 2016. India and the UK signed an extradition treaty in 1992, but so far only one person has been sent back under it.
Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel was extradited last October to face trial for his alleged involvement in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. However, unlike Mallya, Patel had submitted to the extradition order without offering legal challenge. India had made a formal extradition request for Mallya through a note verbale, a diplomatic communication, on 8 February. Mehrishi lauded the UK’s effort for extraditing Mallya and offered New Delhi’s help to the prosecution in pursuing the case in London. The sources said India told the British delegation if one-on-one contact could be established between the prosecuting agency in India and the crown prosecution or department of prosecution, it would be speedier and easier to present evidence before the judge concerned.
The Indian side said authorities here will inform the UK about the proceedings or court hearings happening in cases of criminals wanted by Britain living in India and wanted it to be reciprocated. Both sides agreed to sign an MoU in July on reworking the agreement on security cooperation. India also offered to drop cases registered against a Bangladeshi national, who is lodged in Assam, so he can be extradited to England. Sources said India expected reciprocity from England. If people wanted here are facing criminal charges in Britain, those should be dropped and their extradition facilitated, they said.