Vijay Mallya’s well-wishers are pushing his case with the offices of UK PM Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
NEW DELHI: The extradition of fugitive Vijay Mallya, who escaped India six years ago and is now staying in London, is being resisted by an influential lobby based in India and the United Kingdom, official sources have said. According to them, the chances of the return of the 67-year-old Mallya to India are “remote” despite India’s best efforts that include meeting all the stringent requirements that were put forth by the British courts.
This emerged even as the UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman approved the extradition of middleman Sanjay Bhandari earlier last week. Earlier in November 2022, a UK court, while allowing Bhandari’s extradition to India, had sent the application to the Home Department for its approval.
Notably, in April 2020, after exhausting all legal remedies available to him to escape extradition to India to face charges of embezzling public money, Mallya had filed an asylum request with the UK Home Department on “humanitarian grounds”.
However, almost 36 months later, the UK Home Department is yet to either allow or deny the asylum request, thereby allowing him to stay in London even as he avoids the fraud and money laundering related charges that he is facing in India for the approximately Rs 9,000 crore of public money that he swindled.
Officials said that Mallya’s case was being pushed aggressively with the office of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Braverman by a lobby comprising Mallya’s well-wishers. “The UK government has no legal ground to stop his extradition; Mallya’s lawyers have done whatever they could and failed. What we are seeing for the past three years is intervention at the level of the UK government to stop him from being sent to India,” an official source, who was until recently posted in the United Kingdom and monitoring Mallya’s case, told The Sunday Guardian.
“During his prime, Mallya was known for his hospitality that he would shower on politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, and members of the judiciary by way of moveable and immovable gifts, and it is likely that the same people are now helping him escape a prison life in India,” the source said.
A businessman who was a partner of Mallya in the past said: “He has a very strong network in the UK. He has built this network over the last two decades. Many of the lawmakers were financially obliged by him in the past. I will not be surprised if he is getting a favourable response from London.”
The Sunday Guardian’s emails to the office of Secretary Suella Braverman seeking a response on the matter elicited no response till the time the report went to press.