United Kingdom Home Secretary Sajid Javid today approved the extradition of beleaguered Indian businessman Vijay Mallya to India, where he is wanted by the authorities in connection with unpaid bank loans and interest of more than Rs. 9,000 crore.
Today's decision came after the Westminster Magistrate's Court here had, on December 10, 2018, held that the liquor baron must be extradited from the UK to India in the case.
The court's ruling came after a prolonged litigation involving Mallya, who had fled India in March, 2016.
Mallya, 63, who is facing charges of fraud, money laundering and violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), has 14 days to appeal against today's decision, failing which he will be extradited within 28 days, sources said.
The businessman said on micro-blogging site Twitter that he would initiate the appeal process.
"After the decision was handed down on December 10, 2018 by the Westminster Magistrate;s Court, I stated my intention to appeal. I could not initiate the appeal process before a decision by the Home Secretary. Now I will initiate the appeal process," he said.
"Modi Government clears one more step to get Mallya extradited while Opposition rallies around the Saradha Scamsters," Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who is in the United States for medical treatment, said on Twitter.
On January 5, a Mumbai Special Cour declared Mallya as a "fugitive" under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, in a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in June 2018.
In the first of its kind case under the FEOA, on June 22 last year, the ED had moved the Special PMLA Court seeking to declare Mallya a 'fugitive economic offender' under the new act, to enable confiscation of all his properties, estimated at over Rs 12,000 crore.
However, through his lawyers, Mallya told the Special Court that he had not fled the country but left in the ordinary course to attend a meeting in Switzerland in March 2016 at the World Motor Sport Council and the arrest warrant against him was issued much later.
Special PMLA Court Judge M.S. Azmi will start hearing arguments on confiscation of Mallya's properties from February.
Under the FEOA, any person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India to avoid criminal prosecution or is abroad or refuses to return to India will face criminal prosecution.
After the person is declared a 'fugitive economic offender', the prosecuting agency is vested with the powers to confiscate all his assets and properties to recover the dues.
Mallya was summoned by the Special Court here to appear before it on August 27, but he failed to honour the court summons, besides other notices, summons and arrest warrants by the ED wanting to question him.
He flew out of the country around March 2016 even as a consortium of 13 banks -- led by the State Bank of India (SBI) -- was preparing to initiate loan recovery proceedings against him for over Rs 9,000 crore.
Late last year, Indian government had filed extradition proceedings against him. Pending the final verdict in the case, he is currently on bail in London.
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