On Monday, fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya lost against the appeal in the United Kingdom High Court. Mallya was ordered to be extradited to India from the Indian Government in 2018 that has accused him of “knowing to misrepresent” the profitability of his companies when he sought bank loans in 2009. Mallya preferred an appeal to this order in February 2020. The Court considered and rejected 6 challenges on which Mallya’s lawyer, Claire Montgonrey had appealed and upheld Session District Judge’s judgement. The judgement was handed down through email due to coronavirus breakdown, the judge clarifies that in case of extradition cases, the court must only satisfy itself of the existence of prima facie against the requested person and not excavate into establishing the truth. Rejecting Mallya’s argument that the SDJ needed to be sure of his guilt to pass such an order, it was held that
The role of an extradition court considering this question is to consider whether a tribunal, properly directed, could reasonably and properly convict based on the evidence. The extradition court is, emphatically, not required itself to be sure of guilt to send the case to the Home Secretary. The extradition court must conclude that a tribunal of fact, properly directed and considering all the relevant evidence, could reasonably be sure of guilt. There is no basis upon which it could be said the SDJ misunderstood this, or that she misdirected herself, the extradition court added. After seeing all disputes regarding the lack of evidence and admissibility of the same, the upheld that the SDJs did not get into the fact-finding exercise which determines the merits of the allegations against Mallya.
The judges said that it is clear beyond any doubt that the SDJ directed herself properly. She had the criminal burden and standard in mind when she considered whether there was a prima facie case. India’s case for his extradition rests on, what had been described in court proceedings by the prosecution as, the “three chapters of dishonesty”: misrepresentations to various banks to acquire loans, the misuse of the loans and his conduct after the banks recalled the loans. The Crown Prosecution Service, on behalf of the Indian government, argued that there was at least a case that Mallya had to answer back home and a reasonable jury could conclude that the businessman and his company indulged in conspiracy, fraud, and used loans for unintended purposes, including part of the loans going to his motor racing team. Mark Summers, the CPS lawyer, reminded Justice Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing of the high court of England and Wales that in extradition cases, British courts are solely required to establish whether the person requested has a prima facie case to answer, not to establish the truth. To that extent, he argued, the Magistrates Court had taken into account all relevant evidence and had ruled that Mallya had a prima facie case to answer and that he needed to be extradited to India to face trial. Mallya’s lawyer Claire Montgomery, on the other hand, has insisted that Mallya’s inability to repay bank loans was due to genuine business failure and the result of wider challenges facing the aviation industry at the time.
After a significant observation of the charges of conspiracy and money laundering, the court suggests that there is a material to suggest that a jury could observe that Mallya was behind the process through which applications for loans were made. It seems that there was a material through which the jury could draw a secure interference that the Appellant was knowingly behind all the steps led to the applications of the loans being made through Mallya.
After observing the above facts the Appeal is being dismissed, the final call on Mallya’s extradition will now lie with the Secretary of State (Home Secretary), Priti Patel. Now, he has a period of 14 days to appeal under Supreme Court of UK. If Mallya failed to do so he will be extradited to India within 28 days and then face trial on charges of fraud and money laundering to the extent of an estimated amount of 9000 crores.
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