Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Coronavirus could impact timeframe for Vijay Mallya's extradition to India

London: The coronavirus pandemic may impact the timescale for the extradition to India of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, who lost his UK High Court appeal on Monday against the Indian government's fraud and money laundering case.

The Royal Courts of Justice in London concluded that the 64-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss did have a prima facie case to answer in the Indian courts over the alleged Rs 9,000-crore fraud associated with loans sought from Indian banks for his now-defunct airline.

However, an extradition expert in the UK said the strict social distancing norms in place to try and curb the spread of Covid-19 may add a further dimension to the UK's Article 3 obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, relating to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

"In terms of the timeframe, much now is up in the air due to coronavirus. There is a question now that the UK could be in breach of Article 3 if it were to extradite a person to a country where they could be at risk of being detained in an environment where they are at risk of contracting coronavirus," said barrister Toby Cadman, co-founder of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers and an extradition specialist.

Lord Justice Stephen Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing, in a judgment handed down remotely this week under the Covid-19 protocol in place across the UK judicial system, ruled "there is a prima facie case both of misrepresentation and of conspiracy, and thus there is also a prima facie case of money laundering".
Mallya has 14 days to seek permission to appeal in the Supreme Court against the High Court order dismissing his appeal and the UK Home Office can carry on with the extradition process only once that avenue has been exhausted.

The leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is on a point of law of general public importance.

Cadman, who has led several high-profile extradition cases in the UK, explained: "That is a very high threshold that is not often met.
20/04/20 PTI/New Indian Express
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