There was feverish speculation within the Indian media on Wednesday night that fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, who lives the high life in Britain despite owing a consortium of Indian banks £1.05 billion (Rs 9,961 crore), was to be put on a plane and flown back to Mumbai any minute, with one TV channel claiming he was on board a plane on Wednesday night.
The media reports said he would be accompanied by the CBI and ED, produced in court and lodged in Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai, as the extradition legal issues were complete.
But Mallya’s personal assistant told Media she was unaware of any developments relating to his extradition. “I am not aware of him going back tonight,” she said late Wednesday.
Mallya’s lawyer, Anand Doobay, from Boutique Law, avoided calls. When asked whether media reports he was being deported on Wednesday night were correct, Mallya said in a WhatsApp message: “Only they know what they say!”
A senior official at the Indian high commission in London confirmed to TOI the 64-year-old was not flying back on Wednesday night, or any time soon. “There is no extradition happening as of now. The media have picked up an old statement of the CBI,” he said. “The situation has not changed. There are delays.”
It was given to understand that the delay is because home secretary Priti Patel has not signed off on Mallya’s extradition for legal reasons. There is speculation this could be because he has or is going to apply for asylum, or because of his pending civil cases in the UK courts. A consortium of Indian banks has brought £1.05 billion bankruptcy proceedings against Mallya, which are ongoing, and he is also in a battle with Diageo over the $40 million (Rs 303 crore) he received when he left United Spirits as chairman. Both cases are dragging on.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police added: “No date has been arranged for Vijay Mallya’s extradition as yet.” It is they who will have to accompany Mallya to Heathrow airport and hand him over to the Indian authorities if and when he does get extradited.
Mallya lost his final extradition battle in the UK courts on May 14 and he has to be extradited within 28 days of that date, or else he can ask the courts to discharge him.