With the Lok Sabha election campaign at its peak, with the first phase of elections to be held on 11 April, every ‘hits’ and ‘misses’ by the ruling BJP will have a wider political ramifications. And in this context, the increased chances of Vijay Mallya’s extradition might benefit BJP significantly while costing Congress one of its salvos against the BJP.
Within an hour of the UK High Court rejecting Vijay Mallya’s application to file an appeal against his extradition order passed by the Westminster Magistrate’s Court in December last year, Twitter users sprang into action and celebration with hashtags sarcastically ‘welcoming’ the fugitive businessman to tweets of ‘bring-back-Mallya’ flooding the social media space.
In December last year, Westminster Magistrate’s Court had ordered Mallya’s extradition to stand trial on charges brought by the CBI and ED. Following which Mallya had filed an application of appeal to the UK High Court, which today while rejecting the Mallya’s plea, upheld the Westminster Magistrate’s Court decision.
Now, the only option left for the beleaguered business tycoon is to appeal to the UK Supreme Court to stop his extradition. Following the rejection of his appeal, now Mallya will get an opportunity to present oral submissions. If the court find merit and Mallya's lawyer is able to convince the court by bringing in some new document or material that can make strong case for fresh trail, then only Mallya can save himself from being sent back to India.
Mallya who fled the country in 2016 was arrested in April 2017 on an extradition warrant. After that a nine months trail led to the Westminster Magistrate's Court judgment.
Mallya’s arrest and the Westminster Magistrate's Court judgment ordering his extradition was seen as a major diplomatic win for India. However, his appeal led to the delay in extradition. Now, with high court rejecting his appeal, it has further increased the chances of Mallya’s extradition.
Vijay Mallya had fled the country after defaulting on loan payments to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of 31 banks. India has been seeking Mallya’s extradition on charges of fraud and money laundering.
While Mallya’s defense has argued that his inability to pay the loan was due to ‘business failure’, the prosecution has claimed that Mallya had intentionally defaulted the loan.
And this allegation of his ‘willfully’ defaulting the loan amounts, taken from several banks and the fact that he fled the country without making attempts to pay it earned him the ‘fugitive’ tag.
His escape and extradition became a major political issue with Congress accusing the BJP of allowing him to flee the country. On the other hand, BJP pointed out the fact that all the loans to Mallya were sanctioned during Congress-led UPA regime.
Last month, the arrest of Nirav Modi, the main accused in the $2 billion Punjab National Bank scam case, in London by the Scotland Yard was projected as a major boost to India's efforts to bring back the fugitive diamantaire.
The arrest came after a London court issued an arrest warrant against Nirav in response to a request by the ED for his extradition in a money laundering case.
His arrest was seen as a result of strong diplomatic negotiations under Modi and helped the BJP assert its claim of India emerging as a stronger nation-state under Modi.
While the opposition and critics of the BJP government rejected all ‘high claims’ as optics, the fact remains, that in a poll year such news is bound to help the BJP’s prospects.
'Mallya ran away with the hard earned money of people' was a narrative that was built around his escape. He was projected as an ‘enemy’ of the country and bringing him back was projected as major challenge for BJP.
Now with his appeal been rejected, his extradition has become more probable. Given that it has happened in the week when incumbent BJP goes to poll seeking its reelection, it is definitely going to benefit it.
And at the same time Congress who has been attacking BJP on this ground might lose one of its salvos.
Updated Date: Apr 08, 2019 19:15:03 IST