Vijay Mallya seeking 'alternative route' to remain in the UK
Fugitive economic offender Vijay Mallya has reportedly appealed to the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for an alternative route to remain in the UK and avoid extradition to India. The 65-year-old's counsel, Philip Marshal, who is representing him in bankruptcy proceedings in the High Court of London, admitted during a remote hearing that Mallya applied for another route—likely a reference to asylum. Here's more.
To recall, Mallya's legal challenge to the extradition request by the Indian Government was rejected last year at the Supreme Court level in the UK. And, he will remain on bail in Britain until Home Secretary Patel signs an order for Mallya to be extradited to India to face fraud and money laundering charges in connection to the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The UK Home Office has even reportedly confirmed on the background that a "confidential legal process" is underway before Mallya's extradition order can be executed. Following this development, widespread speculation was triggered that the fugitive billionaire had sought asylum in the UK. Interestingly, the Home Office in Britain neither confirmed nor denied the details of the same.
"The extradition was upheld but he (Mallya) is still here...there is another route for him to apply to the Secretary of State for status," Marshall told the judge during a remote hearing on Friday when asked about the extradition proceedings' status. He was likely referring to asylum, which experts say, would depend on whether Mallya applied for asylum before India's extradition request or after.
UK-based extradition specialist Toby Cadman, the co-founder of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, said, "He (Mallya) would need to argue much stronger grounds." "There are specific rules that detail when asylum is a bar to extradition, it is clear that claiming asylum after all appeals have been exhausted is unlikely to be considered a valid claim to asylum protection," he explained.
The remote hearing in the commercial division of High Court in London was held to establish if funds from the sale of Mallya's French luxury property, Le Grand Jardin, can be sanctioned for his living expenses and legal fees. The money is with the UK's Court Funds Office as part of bankruptcy proceedings initiated by the State Bank of India-led consortium of Indian banks.
Meanwhile Mallya's legal team argues the court should sanction required funds to Mallya, allowing him to cover the mounting legal expenses in the UK and India. However, the lawyers representing the Indian banks have challenged this request, saying it would "dissipate" the funds Mallya owes to his creditors toward "speculative and unreasonable costs" even while other sources of funds remain available to him.