Protracted legal proceedings are expected before the extradition of erstwhile liquor baron Vijay Mallya, lasting even up to a year, and the Indian government is preparing a strong defence of its case in British courts.
In the wake of several high-profile extraditions gone sour, a special team of investigators, senior bureaucrats, lawyers, and consultants has been created for the first time. Six senior Indian lawyers have been shortlisted. Reportedly, "India will also rope in some Queen's Counsels (QCs). The government had already planned this and you will see the lawyers being finalized within the next few days."
However, an uphill task lies ahead. "It is going to be a long-drawn battle between the Indian government and Vijay Mallya," said Zulfiquar M Memon, managing partner, MZM Legal. "Formal arrest and bail at the Westminster Magistrates' Court is just a formality to kick-start the process. The case for extradition will begin now, which will be contested till the end by Mallya's lawyers."
MZM Legal was also part of legal proceedings in the case of music director Nadeem Saifee. India was unable to get him extradited from London, as also Lalit Modi, former chief of the Indian Premier League. "Mallya's arrest is definitely one step forward, but one among many to be traversed before getting anywhere close to his extradition," said Ramesh Vaidyanathan, managing partner, Advaya Legal. India will have to convince the UK courts that Mallya — who already has about five top QCs on his legal team — will not be harassed or targeted in any way.
"The arrest has been made based on the CBI's request," said Anand Desai, managing partner, DSK Legal. "Scotland Yard is involved in the arrest as the Indian police has no jurisdiction in the UK. The English courts will now decide on extradition, applying English laws and the extradition treaty with India. The Indian government will have to establish the case against him for extradition, but obviously, the actual criminal trial will be conducted in India," he added.
The good part, Vaidyanathan of Advaya Legal said, is that "a prima facie case has been made out in India's extradition request earlier this year and a district judge in the UK has found merit in this request".
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