Cannot set timeline for Vijay Mallya's extradition to India: UK envoy
New Delhi, July 23: The UK government cannot set a timeline for extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya though it is determined to ensure that criminals can't escape justice by crossing national borders, British High Commissioner Sir Philip Barton said on Thursday. Asked during an online media briefing whether Mallya has sought asylum in the UK, the envoy said his government never comments on such issues.
"The UK government and the courts, which are independent of the government, are absolutely clear about their roles in preventing people avoid justice by moving to another country. We are all determined to play our part in any case, and to make sure that we are working together to ensure that criminals can't escape justice by crossing national borders," he said. He said the extradition of Mallya is an ongoing legal case and that the UK government does not have anything new on it.
"The extradition of Vijay Mallya is an ongoing legal case and I can't comment any further on it. I can't say anything at all about timescales," Sir Barton said, replying to a question on when the UK authorities are extraditing the fugitive businessman to India. At the same time, the newly-appointed envoy said the UK government is aware of the importance India attaches to the case.
Last month, India said it has urged the UK not to consider any request for asylum by Mallya as there appeared to be no ground for his persecution in the country.
The UK government, earlier, indicated that Mallya is unlikely to be extradited to India anytime soon, saying there is a legal issue that needed to be resolved before his extradition can be arranged. In May, Mallya lost his appeals in the UK Supreme Court against his extradition to India to face money laundering and fraud charges.
The UK top court's decision marked a major setback to the 64-year-old businessman as it came weeks after he lost his High Court appeal in April against an extradition order to India.
A spokesperson in the British High Commission here said last month that there was a legal issue that needed to be resolved before Mallya's extradition can be arranged. "Under United Kingdom law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved.
The issue is confidential and we cannot go into any detail. We cannot estimate how long this issue will take to resolve. We are seeking to deal with this as quickly as possible," the official had said.
Mallya has been based in the UK since March 2016 and remains on bail on an extradition warrant executed three years ago by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017. The High Court verdict in April upheld the 2018 ruling by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at the end of a year-long extradition trial in December 2018 that the former Kingfisher Airlines boss had a "case to answer" in the Indian courts