The erstwhile king of good times may be headed for some bad time now.
A magistrate court in the UK yesterday (Dec. 10) ordered the extradition of fugitive Indian businessman Vijay Mallya.
The 62-year-old billionaire had fled India in March 2016 after a clutch of banks in the country closed in on him to repay Rs9,000 crores ($1.24 billion) in loans. The Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s premier investigative agency, filed a case against him in August 2016.
Besides the loans, Mallya’s now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines owes Rs300 crore as salaries to over 3,000 employees.
“I find that the allegations set out in the request are extradition offences,” UK chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ruled.
The judge also took a tough stance against Mallya, calling out his flashy lifestyle:
…it is a case of a bank who were in the thrall of this glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy who charmed and cajoled these bankers into losing their common sense and persuading them to put their own rules and regulations to one side.
Mallya’s lawyers had argued that he is the victim of a political witch hunt and that his human rights and medical needs would be at risk in an Indian prison—contentions rejected by the court.
His extradition would be a huge political victory for prime minister Narendra Modi’s government as India goes into elections next year.
However, the tycoon may not be coming home anytime soon.
He can now appeal to the magistrate court ruling in an appeals court, the UK’s supreme court, and perhaps even the European Court of Justice, depending on how Brexit turns out.
“You may have a long process ahead of you,” chief magistrate Arbuthnot told him as she delivered the ruling.
If Mallya chooses not to appeal the order, the UK’s home secretary Sajid Javid will take the final call on his extradition to India.