By Prarthana Mitra
Give us Mallya, we’ll give him the toilet he wants, the Indian government was compelled to assure the UK court hearing its application for the extradition of Vijay Mallya, who faces charges of conspiracy and fraud on several counts.
Trial drags on, justice delayed
The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday promised the Westminster Magistrates Court that if sent back, Mallya will be provided a private western style toilet and wash facilities at Barrack 12 in Mumbai’s Arthur Road prison where he will reportedly be held once India obtains his extradition from the UK. Five photos of western style toilets were also presented to convince the court that acceptable standards would be extended to Mallya. “The Indian government will honour these assurances,” said Barrister Mark Summers appearing on behalf of the Indian government.
Expressing concern for the unhygienic prison conditions in India, the UK government also managed to elicit other perks for the prized fugitive, including a separate clean compound free of overcrowding and full of sunlight. Summers also notified the court that Mallya would not be held in a prison meant for convicts “during pre-trial or trial periods or after conviction” and the interim barrack has been “recently renovated.”
Photo not enough, produce video of cell
Not convinced by the photographs, Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot finally ordered for a video of the cell – taken at midday without artificial lighting with the windows in view- to be submitted by the next hearing date on August 21.
The former owner of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines allegedly owes Rs 90 billion to Indian banks as the primary guarantor of these loans, which according to him, amounts to Rs 55 billion. The extradition plea was initiated solely for the Rs 7.5 billion borrowed from IDBI Bank. Mallya denied all charges even as several cases are running in Indian courts and abroad, but after receiving bail, declared he was ready to settle his dues.
“I have not applied for any clemency plea or a plea bargain in my unconditional offer to the Karnataka High Court. I am ready to settle my dues… There are no further requests at all,” Vijay Mallya said after Tuesday’s hearing.
On June 26, Mallya said he had petitioned the Karnataka High Court to permit his United Breweries to sell their assets worth Rs. 13,900 crore, to repay creditors.
The trail in Britain has been proceeding at a snail’s pace for over a year now. A final verdict was expected at this week’s hearing.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.