Embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya, wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering allegedly amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore, today appeared in court here for a hearing related to his extradition trial.
The 62-year-old Mallya is back in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London for what is expected to be one of the final hearings in the case to determine the “admissibility” of some of the evidence presented by the Indian government.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot will rule on the evidence, following which she is expected to set a timetable for closing arguments and her verdict on whether the UK-based businessman can be extradited to India to face the fraud and money laundering allegations involving his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The judge had directed both sides to submit their arguments for and against the admissibility of the material, which will be taken up this week.
Judge Arbuthnot had also sought further clarifications related to availability of natural light and medical assistance at Barrack 12 of Mumbai Central Prison on Arthur Road, where Mallya is to be held if he is extradited from Britain.
The extradition trial, which opened at the London court on December 4, is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against the tycoon, who has been based in the UK since he fled India in March, 2016.
It will also seek to prove that there are no “bars to extradition” and that Mallya is assured a fair trial in India over his erstwhile airline’s alleged default of over Rs 9,000 crore in loans from a consortium of Indian banks.
Mallya was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant in April, 2017 and has been out on bail on a bond worth 650,000 pounds.
Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot will present her ruling within a timeframe she sets out at the end of the trial.
If she rules in favour of the Indian government, the UK home secretary will have two months to sign Mallya’s extradition order.
However, both sides will have the chance to appeal in higher courts in the UK against the chief magistrate’s verdict.