Will the absconding tycoon be extradited to India?
The efforts of Indian Government to bring in justice was given a boost on 18 April 2017, when the United Kingdom accepted its request to support the extradition of an absconding tycoon. The Scotland Yard in London arrested on an extradition warrant the Indian Liquor Baron, Vijay Mallya, who has been declared a proclaimed offender in India over unpaid loans. The arrest of Vijay Mallya on Tuesday has set a juncture for drawing the image of the prolonged legal battle between the absconding tycoon and the agencies such as CBI and Enforcement Directorate, over the government’s effort to deliver justice as against the default of borrowed loans of Rs.9000 Crores. However, it turned out to be nugatory as in the routine of financial crimes, released him on conditional bail of Rs 5.4-crore bond and stiff terms until May 17, when the extradition hearing will be initiated.
The India-UK extradition treaty came into effect on December 30, 1993, and since then India has made several extradition requests with the United Kingdom but only one has succeeded so far though there have been several indications that the pending cases may be expedited. As per Article 2(2) of Indo-UK extradition treaty, 1993, an offence may be an extradition offence notwithstanding that it relates to taxation or revenue or is one of a purely fiscal character. However, Article 3(1) of the same treaty provides that the extradition may be refused if the offence of which it is requested is an offence of a political character. British courts also consider that the individual’s human rights may be violated in case she/he is returned to the requesting country. In Britain’s Extradition Act of 2003, India is included in Type B of Category 2 list of countries for which the process of extradition is arduous and long. Following which it makes unlikely that the controversial businessman Vijay Mallya would be extradited as in the case of other offenders that include Lalit Modi (for alleged financial offences), Ravi Sankaran (in the navy war room leak case), Nadeem Saifi (in the Gulshan Kumar murder case) and Tiger Hanif (in the Gujarat blasts case). The only person extradited so far was Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel in October 2016. He was wanted in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
It is onerous to surmise the fortuity of fruitful outcome of a legal battle because British Courts have generally employed tough standards to allow extradition. The court hearing the extradition case must be satisfied that the alleged offences committed by Mallya in India would have equal gravity as in the case of offences committed in Britain. The court shall observe and agree that no statutory bars remains as against the extradition process and there is no impact of human rights violation. If the judge is satisfied that there exists a case for extradition then the decision rests with the British Home Secretary. Nevertheless, the judge’s ruling may be challenged in British high court and then the Supreme Court, which may further delay the extradition process.
A few escape routes that may work in favor of absconding tycoon:
- The English Courts dealing with his case provides him with a privilege to explore all legal remedies provided by the British Judicial System before acting upon the final decision on extradition.
- As per the existing extradition treaty agreement between India and the UK, Great Britain and Northern Ireland signed on September 22, 1995, extradition of an individual could be refused on numerous grounds. It should be proved beyond doubt that the offences leveled against the offender in the requesting country have equal gravity for those offences in the surrendering country.
- A minimum of 10 hearings may be required for the primary court at Westminster to arrive at a conclusion and then pave for further legal options of appeal and counter-appeal before the English courts.
- As per Article 5 of the extradition treaty, politically motivated extradition requests where a person is being sought to be brought back to the country for his political affiliations would not be entertained. Mallya may claim the move is politically motivated.
By – Shringar Bhattarai (Columnist @ Legal Bites)