Mallya skips extradition hearing, India gives photo evidence of jail

Vijay Mallya at a practice session at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, England on July 14, 2017.

Controversial Indian businessman Vijay Mallya on Thursday skipped his extradition hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court, which set November 20 as the next date for a review hearing before the formal trial begins on December 4.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in court, told chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot that photographic evidence had been submitted along with a detailed note on the prison where Mallya would be lodged if extradited.

According to the note, Mallya, who is wanted in India for financial offences, will be sent to the high security barrack number 12 of the Mumbai Central Prison (also known as the Arthur Road Jail).

Prison conditions have been an issue in previous extradition hearings to India, the magistrate noted. CPS lawyer Mark Summers said the Indian government, anticipating that this would be an issue, submitted a detailed note on the prison conditions, including photographic evidence of the cell where Mallya may be lodged.

Details of the prison conditions were also reiterated by former home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to London, who informed his counterparts at the UK home office that the jail facilities were no less than those in European prisons.

Though Mallya did not attend the hearing (case number1700934281), Arbuthnot noted that he remained on bail until December 4. Mallya’s legal team had delivered a box of several hard-copy documents to the CPS recently, but the latter said a week had been lost since it was not submitted in electronic format, and thus had to be scanned.

Mallya’s defence team submitted the names of some individuals supposed to be experts in areas of aviation, banking, law and politics, who could be witnesses in the case. The CPS said it was awaiting some reports from the defence team.

The extradition process in Britain includes several opportunities for appeal. If the court approves the extradition, it still has to be finally approved by the home secretary. For example, the extradition of Tiger Hanif — wanted for two bomb attacks in Gujarat in 1993 — has been cleared by court but is yet to be approved by the home secretary.