The NDA's efforts position itself as a government that takes earnest efforts to fight black money, corruption and cronyism received a major setback Tuesday as a UK court expressed surprise that India has not provided evidence to extradite fugitive business man Vijay Mallya yet.
Mallya even made fun of the Indian media outside the extradition court, saying the reporters can keep dreaming about the billions of pounds he defaulted on.
According to media reports, Aaron Watkins, counsel representing India, admitted in the court he needs more time to provide further evidence to extradite Mallya, who is battling a slew of cases in India over his default case involving Rs 9,000 crore worth loans to a clutch of public sector banks.
"Are Indians normally very prompt in their responses? They have taken six months so far and we haven't got any further forward in the past 6 weeks," chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot of Westminster Magistrates' Court said, according to a report in The Times of India.
The comment is a telling statement on the shoddy investigation and evidence gathering by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and shows nothing has improved despite the Narendra Modi government's claims of putting a stop to crony capitalism and corruption.
Worse still, the court also excused Mallya from appearing personally for the next hearing slated for 6 July and extended his bail until 4 December, when the final hearing of the case is likely.
“We have not received final evidence,” the Business Standard reported Watkins as pleading in the court.
The development is a miserable failure in the part of CBI, the investigative agency probing the defaulting and alleged siphoning off of Rs 900 crore loan taken from IDBI Bank by Mallya's now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The 61-year-old liquor baron has been out on bail since his arrest in April in London.
Earlier, he told the reporters waiting outside the court that he had enough evidence to prove his case.
"I have not eluded any court...I have enough evidence to prove my case," Mallya told reporters outside the court.
Britain s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) presented the case in court on behalf of the Indian authorities.
Mallya's defence team is being led by the firm Joseph Hague Aaronson LLP. Barrister Clare Montgomery, a specialist in criminal, regulatory and fraud law, argued in court on their behalf.
Mark Summers to acted as barrister for the CPS Extradition Unit and the Government of India.
Summers is a leading expert in extradition and international law matters.
"There might be a few more hearings in this case in the coming months to deal with case management or any issues that arise, before the final hearing takes place, at which the full arguments from both sides in this case will be heard by the Judge, explained Jasvinder Nakhwal, partner at Peters and Peters Solicitors LLP and member of the UK's Extradition Lawyers Association.
The CPS had met a joint team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in London last month to thrash out details of the case.
"Our aim is to build a strong, infallible case and these meetings will help resolve issues across the table. The CPS will be arguing based on documents provided by CBI and ED, therefore a joint team is here to address queries they may have," official sources had said after the meeting held in early May.
A CBI official has also flown in from Delhi for the hearing on Tuesday.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh had earlier in the day insisted that all necessary steps have been taken to bring back Mallya from the UK but, could not provide a timeframe for the extradition.
Singh had said the documents required for the purpose of extradition were sent to the UK.
Extradition is not as easy and simple as people think, the union minister said, adding that some conditions are laid down when an extradition treaty is signed with a country.
The UK and its laws believe that if someone enters their country with a valid passport which is later cancelled they would not take action, he said.
"From India's side, the documents required for the purpose have been sent on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to the UK authorities who are examining the papers before taking a decision," Singh said.
"No timeframe can be specified now as to when the liquor baron would be brought back to India," he said. However, the London court's move makes it clear that Singh's claim that the documents have been submitted may not be completely correct.
Last week, Mallya was welcomed with chants of chor, chor by Indian cricket fans as he arrived to watch the India vs South Africa Champions Trophy match at The Oval cricket ground in London.
Earlier, he had caused a stir by his attendance of the India vs Pakistan match in Birmingham after which he had declared on Twitter that he would be attending all India matches in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy.
(With inputs from PTI)
Published Date: Jun 14, 2017 08:14 am | Updated Date: Jun 14, 2017 10:10 am