Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: India's efforts to expeditiously get back Vijay Mallya suffered a major setback on Wednesday with UK refusing to deport the beleaguered liquor baron who is facing arrest for money laundering.
In a reply that came nearly a fortnight after India made request for deportation of Vijay Mallya, the UK government made it very clear the businesman could not be deport.
It however asked India to seek extradition.
However, the British government said it acknowledges "the seriousness of allegations" against Mallya and was "keen to assist" the Indian government.
Wanted for defaulting loan over Rs 9,400 crore in the IDBI Bank loan case, Vijay Mallya left India for London on March 2 and has not return to the country since then.
He has also failed to appear before agencies and authorities in the case on three ocassions.
Following this, the government of India revoked his pasport in a bid to secure his presence for investigations against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.
A special court had also issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
"The UK government has informed us that under the 1971 Immigration Act, the UK does not require an individual to hold a valid passport in order to remain in the UK if they have extant leave to remain as long as their passport was valid when leave to remain or enter the UK was conferred.
"At the same time the UK acknowledges the seriousness of the allegations and is keen to assist the Government of India. They have asked GoI to consider requesting mutual legal assistance or extradition," MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
In the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said India will now have to initiate extradition process after a charge sheet is filed to bring back the embattled tycoon to face money laundering charges as well as recovery of the Rs 9,400 crore of loans to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
Cancellation of passport "does not result in automatic deportation, that is the stand taken by UK," Jaitley said.
The Finance Minister said public sector banks are making all efforts to recover the loans and investigating agencies are inquiring into violations of law.
Mallya had a diplomatic passport by virtue of being a Rajya Sabha member. He resigned from the Upper House this month.
The extradition can happen under the 1993 treaty or any other necessary assistance under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) signed in 1992 between India and the U.K.
However, India was hoping to get the liquor baron through the expeditious route of deportation and not go through the lengthy process of extradition.
Significantly, replying to a query in Lok Sabha Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary in March said that India has made 15 extradition requests to the UK, which was yet to act on them.
Chaudhary said in a meeting held on February 15 here between MoS Home and Minister of State for Migration, UK, the issue of pending extradition requests was raised.
"The UK Minister clarified that these matters are sub-judice in the British courts. On the part of the government, the UK Minister assured cooperation on the pending issues on case-to-case basis," the minister had added.
With PTI Inputs