The UK High Court on Tuesday permitted fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to appeal against his extradition order signed off by home secretary on at least one of five grounds. Vijay Mallya had sought permission to appeal against his extradition order signed off by the UK home secretary to face alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to Rs 9,000 crores in India.
The 63-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss said he was feeling "positive" as he had entered the Royal Courts of Justice, where Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell began hearing the arguments from his barrister Clare Montgomery.
Mallya, accompanied by his son Sidharth and partner Pinky Lalwani, watched from the bench as Montgomery began by reiterating many of her arguments laid out during the extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court last year and characterised aspects of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot's ruling as "plain wrong".
She claimed to have "chased down" and countered many of the claims in the case put forward by the Indian authorities and dismissed the conclusion that there was a "clear and unequivocal false statement" made by Mallya about profits being made by a struggling Kingfisher Airlines at the time the loans were being sought.
"The conclusions are in effect a false dichotomy? [Arbuthnot] failed to recognise that there was a straightforward business failure," said Montgomery, as she claimed the case presented by the Indian authorities had moved on in essence from that ruled upon by the lower court.
She also questioned the admissibility of many witness statements and once again highlighted the badly paginated documents submitted by the government of India in the extradition case.
The judges made a few interventions to indicate that the offence for which Mallya is wanted by the Indian justice system is not materially different between English and Indian law.
"Your starting point is that the judge [Arbuthnot] has made findings of a prima facie case on allegations that you haven't had a chance to answer," noted Judge Leggatt, in an early observation on the grounds for the appeal.
The case will now proceed to a full hearing stage at the UK High Court. The appeal will mark one of the final stages of the appeals process, as the chances of permission to appeal to the Supreme Court are unlikely if such a permission is already denied at the High Court stage.
(With PTI inputs)