Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In what could come as a huge relief to beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya, the UK government on Wednesday turned down Ministry of External Affairs' (MEA) plea to deport him to India.
The MEA quoted the UK government saying that it recognises the seriousness of allegations made against the liquor baron and will fully cooperate with government of India.
UK has told India that it can't deport Mallya over invalid passport. However it has asked India to make request for either mutual legal assistance or extradition of Mallya.
Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the MEA said, “The UK Government has informed us that under 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 UK was conferred. At same time,UK acknowledges the seriousness of allegations and is keen to assist GoI”.
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 UK.
However, India was hoping to get the liquor baron, who is facing arrest over allegations of defaulting bank loans of over Rs 9,400 crore, through the expeditious route of deportation and not go through the lengthy process of extradition.
Mallya, currently in UK, had to resign from Rajya Sabha last week amid tightening of the noose by various enforcement agencies and lenders who are trying to recover over Rs 9,000 crore dues from Kingfisher and its guarantors. His passport has been revoked and non-bailable warrant has been issued against him.
Asked when he planned to return to India, Mallya had recently told 'The Sunday Guardian' in an e-mail interview, "I am an Indian to the core. Of course I want to return. But I am not sure I'll get a fair chance to present my side. I've already been branded as criminal. I do not feel the time is right."
The liquor baron while stating that the time is not right for his return said he left India due to a "personal visit with a friend" and appeared to shift the blame of the massive loan default to the banks.