Vijay Mallya (File photo: AFP)
LONDON: Fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya’s extradition has been delayed and it could be months before he is brought back to India. It is understood that the UK home office has delayed his extradition for legal reasons.
There is speculation he may have applied for asylum in Britain, or that the civil cases he is fighting in Britain are preventing the home office from sanctioning his return.
Mallya cannot be extradited to India unless home secretary Priti Patel signs off on it, and she has not done so yet despite the fact he lost all his cases against extradition in the UK courts on May 14.
“The 28 days in which he was meant to be extradited from May 14, 2020 has not started,” an official at the Indian high commission told TOI, adding, “There is definitely some delay. It is all in the hands of the UK government.”
The official said that he did not know if Mallya had made an asylum application and that the Indian high commission in London was pressing the home office “every day” for an update.
Other Indian sources said: “There are certain issues that still need to be resolved. It could be other cases pending against him in the UK courts, it could be an asylum application. The Indian Cabinet is fully occupied with the China standoff and Covid-19 so they don’t mind a delay of a couple of months.”
The home office did not respond to TOI queries.
The embattled liquor baron has lived in the UK since he fled India on March 2, 2016. He maintains he has had indefinite leave to remain in Britain since 1992. That would not prevent him making an asylum claim because he is not a British national, said Karishma Vora, a barrister at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, London, who has experience of representing the home office in asylum claims.
“I very much doubt he would apply for asylum for the very first time at this stage because if you apply after being rejected in an extradition case, asylum is unlikely to be granted. I expect if he has applied, he would have done so before now. He would have been subjected to two asylum interviews and then it gets considered on paper by the home office.”
If they reject it, he can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), and if that fails he can appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
“If he fails in that, he can then judicially review the matter at the high court,” said Vora. That whole process would take at least a couple of years, she added.
The European Court of Human Rights confirmed to TOI on Wednesday it has not received an application from Mallya for a Rule 39 injunction preventing his removal to India.
Mallya has at least two battles ongoing in the UK civil courts. A consortium of Indian banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), continues to try and enforce their £1.14 billion (Rs 10,623 crore) debt judgment against him.
As part of this action the banks, via their law firm TLT LLP in London, are engaged in a bankruptcy petition based on a judgment debt of £1.05 billion (Rs 9,741 crore), including interest taking into account recoveries the banks have already made. The next hearing for this is scheduled for July 7, 2020.
Spirits producer Diageo also has a case against him in the London high court. It is trying to get back the $40 million (Rs 303 crore) it paid to Mallya in 2016, as part of the $75 million (Rs 568 crore) settlement for his departure from United Spirits (USL). Mallya has a counterclaim against Diageo for $21 million for an unpaid chunk of that $75 million settlement. The hearing on these matters is scheduled at the commercial court in October 2021.