In the Vijay Mallya extradition case, The UK High Court has said that it remains unconvinced about Mallya’s claim that he is an NRI, and now he can be regarded as a fugitive. The Court did not buy Mallya’s claim that he has been a non-resident Indian (NRI) since 1988 and has lived in England since 1992, a country where liquor baron Vijay Mallya has indefinite leave to remain (ILR). The UK court observed that, “The evidence indicates that prior to March 2016 Dr Mallya travelled fairly regularly between India and England for business and political reasons. Most of his business interests were in or closely connected with India, most notably United Breweries Group and Kingfisher Airlines. Whilst Dr Mallya have indefinite leave to stay in the UK, he is said to be a non-resident taxpayer.”
Judge Andrew Henshaw in his ruling observed, “In all these circumstances, and even taking account of the fact that Mallya is contesting the alleged grounds for extradition, there are grounds for regarding Mallya as a fugitive from justice.” The UK court recognizing that he is away from India only to escape the clutches of the law, is an excellent first step towards India having a legitimate ground to extradite him. It vindicates India’s position about Mallya being an economic offender who is escaping the law of India.
The Indian banks also tasted victory when the UK High Court said that Mallya’s assets in the UK can be used to recover his debts. Judge Andrew Henshaw ruled his judgment in favor of 13 Indian state-owned banks led by State Bank of India to which Vijay Mallya owes Rs 9,863 crore including interest. The judge has passed world-wide freezing order on Mallya’s assets. With this, assets owned by Vijay Mallya anywhere in the world can be frozen. Judge Henshaw, in his judgment, observed, “There is a risk of the value of Dr Mallya’s assets deteriorating, and, or, being subject to claims by other creditors, and a risk of Dr Mallya being declared bankrupt. Dr Mallya’s departure from India, to where he has never since returned, and his resistance to India’s application to extradite him to face trial on serious criminal charges, provides some grounds for regarding him as a fugitive from justice.” Because of freeze orders, now Vijay Mallya can only have access to 20,000 pounds per week.
Member of TLT LLP, the UK firm representing Indian Banks, Paul Gair, told Times of India, “In dismissing Dr Mallya’s application, the high court has demonstrated its willingness to recognize judgments granted by courts in other jurisdictions, giving parties opportunities to enforce their judgments against any assets held here. This case also sets a strong precedent for parties to secure a worldwide freezing order when enforcing judgments against willful defaulters. Following the decision today, the banks are now considering the enforcement options available to them in order to recover the sums due from Dr Mallya under the DRT judgment, which is now enforceable in England and Wales as if it were a judgment given by the English courts.”
On a warrant issued by Indian authorities, Vijay Mallya was arrested in London on 18 April. He is fighting numerous lawsuits in UK and as well as in India for allegedly committing crimes like financial fraud and money laundering. Vijay Mallya is finally getting the fruits of his Karma. There is no relief for him anywhere. Indian Government is also bringing The Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance. This move will make life even more difficult for Vijay Mallya.
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