Rajiv Mehrishi visiting Britain; Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi likely on agenda
New Delhi: Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Monday left for London for talks between India and Britain on issues such as the extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya and former Indian Premier League (IPL) chief Lalit Modi.
His visit comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with his British counterpart Theresa May in Hamburg, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting there. Modi had asked for Britain’s cooperation in sending “economic offenders” back to India.
Home ministry officials are tight-lipped about the week-long visit of the country’s top security officer to London, but people familiar with the mater said it bears significance as New Delhi has been making active efforts to bring Mallya and Modi back from Britain.
Issues related to the two are expected to figure in the home secretary’s meetings, the people said.
Mehrishi is expected to hold talks with his counterpart Patsy Wilkinson, the second permanent secretary in the British home office, and put forward India’s case. India has already assured Britain of all assistance in extradition matters to allow the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) to present water-tight cases before the courts there against Mallya.
Mallya has been in Britain for over a year, escaping arrest warrants against him, while a court in London is also hearing a case regarding his return to India. In the Hamburg meeting, the prime minister asked May for Britain’s “cooperation for the return of escaped Indian economic offenders”.
Mallya, who is wanted in India for Kingfisher Airlines’ default on loans worth nearly Rs9,000 crore, has been in Britain since March 2016. In April, he went to a central London police station, was arrested and released on conditional bail a few hours later after providing a bail bond worth £650,000.
He assured the court that he would abiding by all conditions associated with extradition proceedings, such as the surrender of his passport. Lalit Modi, former chief of the Indian Premier League (IPL), is wanted by the Indian authorities with respect to a money laundering probe and is said to be in the UK.
The former cricket administrator has maintained that he has not done any wrong in any of the IPL deals. The Enforcement Directorate had registered a money laundering case against Modi and others based on a Chennai police complaint in 2012 on charges of alleged cheating of BCCI-IPL in granting the overseas telecast rights of the T20 cricket tournament in 2009.
India and Britain have an extradition treaty, signed in 1992, but so far only one extradition has taken place under the arrangement—that of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel. Patel was sent back to India last October to face a trial in connection with his involvement in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.
The home secretary is also expected to discuss with British officials how to enhance cooperation in matters of terrorism, intelligence sharing and checking activities of Khalistan supporters. The visit also came a week after the Birmingham city council withdrew permission for a planned rally to mark “Burhan Wani Day” last Saturday after India lodged a protest with the British government against the “glorification of terrorists”.
Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri militant and Hizbul Mujahideen leader, was killed by security forces on 8 July 2016.