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SC asks Centre to file status report on proceedings in UK for extradition of Vijay Mallya

The Supreme Court Monday asked the Centre to file a status report in six weeks on the confidential legal proceedings pending in the United Kingdom on extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to India.

The Centre had on October 5 told the Apex Court that Mallya could not be extradited to India until a separate “secret” legal process in the UK, which is “judicial and confidential in nature is resolved”.

A bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ashok Bhushan asked Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta to file a status report in the matter in six weeks and posted it for hearing in the first week of January next year.

The bench also refused to accept the plea of advocate EC Agarwala, appearing for Mallya in the apex court, seeking discharge from the case.

The Centre had last month said it was not aware of the secret ongoing proceedings against Mallya in the UK as the government of India was not party to the process.

Mallya, an accused in bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines, is in the UK since March 2016. He is on bail on an extradition warrant executed three years ago by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017.

On August 31, the top court had directed Mallya to appear before it on October 5 while dismissing his plea seeking review of the 2017 verdict, which held him guilty of contempt for transferring $40 million to his children in violations of court orders.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing on Monday, the Solicitor-General told the bench that Agarwala has filed an application from discharge from the case.

“This is aggravating the matter. We have filed an affidavit saying that there are some proceedings going on which is confidential in nature. Without that legal issue being resolved extradition cannot be done,” Mehta said.

“The application seeking discharge is rejected and advocate E C Agarwala will continue to appear for the contemnor on the matter,” the bench said in its order.

When the bench asked Mehta about time-frame of proceeding pending in the UK, the Solicitor General said they had no information about it from the London High Commission.

He sought six-week time to file a status report on the issue.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, in its affidavit filed earlier in the contempt case in which Mallya has been held guilty, said the pending legal issue in the UK was “outside and apart from the extradition process” and was “confidential and cannot be disclosed”.

The bench had last month asked Mallya’s lawyer to apprise the apex court by November 2, what kind of “secret” proceedings are going on to extradite him.

The Centre had given details of the extradition proceedings against Mallya starting from February 9, 2017, till the dismissal of his appeal on May 14 and said that the fugitive businessman had thus exhausted all avenues of appeal in the United Kingdom.

The Centre had said following the refusal of leave to appeal, Mallya’s surrender to India should, in principle, had been completed within 28 days but “the UK home office intimated that there is a further legal issue which needs to be resolved before Vijay Mallya’s extradition may take place”.