LONDON: Tycoon Vijay Mallya on Tuesday (Jul 2) won the right to challenge in court Britain’s decision to order his extradition to India to face fraud charges.
A two-judge panel at the High Court in London ruled the appeal by the 63-year-old owner of Kingfisher beer, who also heads the Force India Formula One racing team, should proceed to a full hearing.
Mallya is one of the most high-profile of several extradition cases between Britain and India.
He faces being returned to India to stand trial after British Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order for his extradition in February.
That followed a December court decision against Mallya, who left India in 2016 owing more than US$1 billion after defaulting on loan payments to a state-owned bank and allegedly misusing the funds.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled then that he had misrepresented how loans received from banks would be used and therefore had a case to answer there.
She said bankers had been “charmed” by a “glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy” into losing their common sense.
However, at the High Court hearing Tuesday Mallya’s barrister Clare Montgomery argued that “fundamental features” of Arbuthnot’s decision were wrong.
She told the court that the judge made findings “premised on serious, and in some cases very obvious, errors”.
Judge George Leggatt, one of the pair hearing the appeal, said that was “reasonably arguable” and allowed the case to continue to another hearing on an unspecified future date.
But the court dismissed Mallya’s claim on all other grounds, including that his prosecution in India was politically motivated.
Mallya was once known as the “King of Good Times” but dropped off India’s most wealthy list in 2014, engulfed by Kingfisher Airlines’ massive debts.