- How Vijay Mallya got away?
- India-UK Extradition Treaty gets Mallya out?
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya's arrest and bail within a span of 3 hours sent a wave of glee and disappointment across India in quick succession. While that was a predictable reaction, what remains unpredictable is the Law of the Lands of UK and India. For instance, the India-UK extradition Treaty that was signed between the two nations on December 30, 1993. Penned down for the easy extradition of high-profile individuals, the Treaty now turns against India's wishes. And backing this idea is the fact that no high-profile offenders have been extradited in the past 23 years. In fact, mullahs believe that extraditing an Indian economic offender from the UK is extremely difficult.
According to criminal lawyer Majeed Memon, it is really tough to convince British authorities that a foreigner, residing on their soil is a criminal fugitive who has committed a financial crime in his own country. Add to it, the legal loopholes in both the countries that enable an easy escape of a fugitive. Article 9 of the UK-India Treaty offers a cushion for high profile offenders like Mallya. He could have argued that the extradition request was a disguise for false persecution. And the slow judicial proceeding of issuing a request in the first place and legal procedure following it in a foreign land could add to the chances of the fugitive escaping, which is what happened in the case of Vijay Mallya.
An option to appeal at every level of the judiciary further complicates the process. Legal experts cite the case of navy war room leak accused Ravi Shankaran where he escaped extradition by appealing to the UK High Court. A top beaureaucrat, under condition of anonimity, said, "Economic offenders are generally powerful people. They exhaust all options with the executive and judiciary and only then leave India. Any action against such people is difficult."
Legal experts also cite the case of Lalit Modi who escaped the clutches of law, despite being issues a non-bailable warrant by the ED.
Article 5 and the dim chances of extradition
According to the Article 5 of the India-UK extradition Treaty, there is every scope of refusing an extradition if the offence is of a political nature. British courts also pass judgement with the purview of possible human rights violations an individual may face once he is deported to the home country. Mallya has an advantage point there, says a top UK bureaucrat who cites the case of Tiger Hanif. He says, "In a different context, Tiger Hanif has been sought by India since 2010 for his role in the 1993 Gujarat blasts, he has exhausted all legal options to avoid extradition, but he has still not been extradited.” He further added, "It depends on the many boxes in the extradition process and whether they are ticked; very few manage to pass all the hoops. The Mallya case is also a test for both Narendra Modi and David Cameron after the bonhomie of his November visit."
The economic and the social status of a high-profile fugitive also plays an important role in his great escape. Mallya, for instance, is said to be a 'UK resident' since 1992, which makes him eligible for applying for a UK passport or a Tier 1 Investors visa that will allow him to stay in the country by investing 5 million pounds in the British economy.
While money and power speak volumes on Mallya's reason for escaping law, he could still use the European Court of Human Rights as his trump card to avoid extradition altogether. Checkmate, you say?
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:48 PM IST