Vastavam Web: Liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya’s extradition trial is set for one of its final hearings at Westminster Magistrates’ Court here today.The 62-year-old, who is on trial for the UK court to rule if he can be extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores, is on bail until April 2 and therefore not obliged to attend the hearing today.At the last hearing in January, Mallya’s counsel, Clare Montgomery, had argued that evidence that was claimed as a “blueprint of dishonesty” by the CPS was in fact privileged conversation between Mallya and his lawyer about “legal advice in clear contemplation of litigation” and hence should be inadmissible.
On a separate category of evidence presented by the Indian government, Mallya’s team questioned the reliability of investigating officers in the case and pointed to over 150 pages of “near identical material” purporting to be statement of witnesses taken under Section 161 of the Indian CrPC.After the defence has completed its arguments, the CPS will respond against the claim of “absence of a strong prima facie case on grounds of iniquity”.
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.It also seeks to prove that there are no “bars to extradition” and that Mallya is assured a fair trial in India over his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines’ alleged default of over Rs 9,000 crore in loans from a consortium of Indian banks.
The CPS, representing the Indian government, has argued that the evidence they have presented confirms “dishonesty” on the part of the businessman and that there are no bars to him being extradited from the UK to face Indian courts.Mallya’s defence team has deposed a series of expert witnesses to claim he had no “fraudulent” intentions and that he is unlikely to get a fair trial in India.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 is expected to pronounce her verdict in the case by May this year.