The fall from grace has been spectacular. From billionaire liquor baron to two-time Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament to fugitive from justice living in London, life may have finally come full circle for UB Group Chairman Vijay Mallya. With his arrest by Scotland Yard in London, Indian government's efforts to extradite the one time 'King of Good Times' seems to have finally borne fruit.
However, he has been granted bail but "Mallya's arrest is definitely one step forward, but one among many to be traversed before getting anywhere close to his extradition. The good part is that a prima facie case has been made out in the extradition request made by the Government of India earlier this year and a district judge in the UK has found merit in this request. This was possible largely due to the emphasis in the request on the cheating and money laundering aspect of the CBI charge-sheet in the IDBI Bank loan sanction issue," says Ramesh Vaidyanathan, Managing Partner of Advaya Legal, adding that a pure civil wrong of loan default of the borrower or the guarantor would not have entitled an extradition request to the UK authorities.
When British Prime Minister Theresa May chose India as her first destination for an overseas trip after taking over, there were some murmurs that the Indian government had forcefully insisted on the extradition of the fugitive businessman. Mallya who fled to UK nearly a year ago, is wanted for non-repayment of loans and advances to the tune of nearly Rs 9000 crore to various Indian banks and institutions.
In the past he has made offers to settle the dispute with the banks provided they take a substantial haircut on their dues. The banks have rejected this. Once Mallya is extradited to India he is likely to be arrested and would face a slew of charges. Earlier in January this year, CBI had issued a non-bailable warrant for Mallya. "Mallya will have the ability to access due process under the UK law, which will include a full hearing before the district court, hearing before the Secretary of State, High Court and the Supreme Court (in fit cases). He will also be entitled to be let out on bail for now upon certain conditions," says Vaidyanathan.
Mallya still owns a substantial chunk of United Brewerie,s his beer company. For the Modi government, Mallya's arrest and extradition to stand trial will be a way to send the message across that this government is tough on 'crony capitalism.'