The London high court ruled on Tuesday that fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya may appeal against his extradition to India on his argument that no prima facie case is made out against him.
Extradition barrister Malcolm Hawkes, of Doughty Street Chambers, said: “The fact he has been granted permission to appeal on the prima facie case is quite interesting as that is the bedrock of the case. There is quite a low threshold the government of India has to reach to persuade the British court there is a case to answer in India, so this suggests to me that government of India evidence is either weak or inadmissible.”
A two-judge bench of the Administrative Court division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London heard the application, which was filed in April. The bench comprising Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell said that the arguments can be reasonably made on some of Westminster Magistrates’ Court Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot’s conclusions in her prima facie case ruling.
Reading out the judgment on granting leave to appeal, Justice Leggatt said: “We have decided that the appellant’s first grounds of appeal is at least reasonably arguable. The district judge found a prima facie case of fraud and misrepresentation but it is argued that many of these alleged misrepresentations she has found in her judgment are not the same ones alleged in the extradition request nor have they even been alleged by the government of India at the extradition hearing so they are not part of the case. The district judge’s findings are either based on a misunderstanding or misreading of the evidence, or inconsistent with the evidence, or they have no bearing on the evidence. The district judge wrongly relied on material not admissible as evidence as well.”
“The district judge also did not give any proper consideration to the possibility that bank officials who approved the loans genuinely believed that the applicant and Kingfisher executives intended to ensure the loans were repaid and believed there was a sufficient likelihood of repayment to justify the lending. We are satisfied there are arguments that can reasonably be made and that justify giving permission to appeal at this court,” the judgement continued to read.
Mallya, as he walked out of the court after the hearing, said: “The senior judges have decided that a prima facie case of the chief magistrate is appealable and I always said these were false charges against me with fake evidence. I am glad I won on the prima facie case. That deals with the government’s charges against me and that means the most to me. Where is the question of fraud?”
“As far as what Kingfisher owes to the banks, I have offered to pay it all back. Now the unthinkable has happened. Jet has collapsed. Who would have thought this would happen? That is the fragile state of aviation in India. The government needs to do something about that. It is unfair that if a business fails, the promoter is accused of fraud almost automatically these days. That is not right,” Mallya added. He was accompanied by his son Siddharth Mallya.
“Despite the good Court result for me today, I once again repeat my offer to pay back the Banks that lent money to Kingfisher Airlines in full. Please take the money. With the balance, I also want to pay employees and other creditors and move on in life,” Mallya later tweeted.
The ruling will be seen as a major blow to the Indian investigating auth