UK’s Mallya move a boost for govt bid to get back fugitives

NEW DELHI: While the government welcomed the UK home secretary’s decision to sign on the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India, it also said that it awaited early completion of the legal process for the fugitive businessman to be sent back. The government was reluctant to say anything more at this stage as it knows that Mallya can still go to higher authorities for a reprieve.

Nevertheless, the UK government’s approval is a boost to India’s diplomatic efforts to bring back fugitives, accused of perpetrating financial scams, from abroad.

In February 2017, the MEA had approached the British high commission with a formal extradition request. After certification by the UK secretary of state, Mallya was arrested and produced before the Westminster magistrate’s court on April 18, 2017. At the conclusion of the hearing, he was granted conditional bail.

The Indian mission in London remained in touch with the UK home office since a court ordered Mallya’s extradition in December last year. The home office had two months to approve the extradition.

As Indian authorities had repeatedly said last year, getting Mallya back was not going to be easy despite the extradition treaty between the UK and India. The UK authorities diligently examined all documents submitted by India under the extradition treaty and only after they were convinced that India had a strong case did they approve the legal process against Mallya.

The MEA is also aggressively pursuing the extradition of fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi from Antigua. While Choksi has acquired the passport of Antigua and Barbuda, Indian officials have been quoted as saying that he could not relinquish Indian citizenship until the Indian government approved it.

India has formally put in a request with Antigua for Choksi’s extradition but for an outcome similar to the one in Mallya’s case, it will first have to convince the local government that Choksi is still an Indian citizen. As a Reuters report from Guyana said on Monday, if all sides agree Choksi is Indian, he could potentially be extradited from Antigua using a Commonwealth-based agreement.

Source: Times of India

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