In a stunning development and a massive win for India, the UK Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, has signed the order for the extradition of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
The following is a statement from the UK Home office confirming the development:
It was less than two months back that the Westminster Magistrates' court had ordered the extradition of Mallya to India, with Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot prima facie finding a case against Mallya for fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. The order had then gone to the UK Home office for approval.
Mallya has 14 days from today to apply for leave to appeal.
Mallya's potential return to India would be a crowning achievement following India's recent successes in extraditing persons connected with various scams. Christian Michel, a middleman in the Agusta Westland scam had been extradited from Dubai in December, and just last week, another Agusta-accused Rajiv Saxena and aviation-lobbyist Deepak Talwar had been deported from the same place after their passports were cancelled.
Just days after Christian Michel's extradition and shortly before his own extradition had been ordered, a clearly spooked Mallya had appeared to have lost his unruffled demeanour and had tweeted copiously offering to settle his considerable dues (To the tune of Rs 9,000 crore) to a SBI-led consortium of Indian Banks. He had claimed that he was being unfairly treated and and that his Kingfisher Airlines had collapsed partly on account of high aviation fuel prices. However, a number of investigative reports by Republic TV have indicated that Mallya had successfully managed to 'lobby' Indian policymakers under the UPA - despite the RBI's protests - to evergreen his defaulting loans, and also alter aviation policy squarely to benefit his own company.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley has reacted to the massive development, tweeting the following:
If he is brought back, a cell in Barrack 12 of Mumbai's Arthur Road jail awaits Vijay Mallya. The conditions in Indian jails had been a major argument by Mallya's attourneys - so much so, that the public prosecutor arguing for Mallya's extradition had to present a video of the jail premises for the judges to review.