Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India is likely to get delayed as he has sought asylum in the United Kingdom on humanitarian grounds, CNBC-TV18 has learned.
Last week, an IANS news report suggested that Mallya could be extradited to India soon after losing an appeal against extradition in the UK High Court. But the British High Commission dismissed the reports, saying that there was a "further legal issue" that needed to be resolved before the businessman could be extradited.
"Under United Kingdom law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved. The issue is confidential and we cannot go into any detail," the High Commission said.
CNBC-TV18 has now learned that Mallya has sought asylum on humanitarian grounds, particularly under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), meaning his extradition to India—if it happens—has been pushed further into the future.
The ECHR’s Article 3 covers the prohibition of torture. However, the meaning of torture has been expanded over time to include harsh medical conditions. Courts in the past have ruled that harsh medical conditions can lead to invocation of Article 3. This happened in the case of a Saint Kitts and Nevis national who was suffering from AIDS.
It is Mallya’s case now that his health could be in danger if he is extradited, given medical conditions that have progressed since this argument was considered and dismissed in the extradition proceedings over the past few months.
There is another consideration of right to life under Article 2 of the ECHR. Mallya’s defence team has previously raised doubts about prison conditions in India. The same can still be an issue even though a dedicated cell has been set up for Mallya in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail.
Whether Mallya -- who owes about Rs 9,000 crore to banks and has been charged with criminal conspiracy and fraud -- succeeds in avoiding extradition on humanitarian grounds remains to be seen but his latest move will buy him time.
The UK Home Office typically takes six months to come to a decision -- it could vary depending on the complexity of the case. The Home Office is unlikely to grant asylum to Mallya, but he could then file for an administrative review of that order.
He also has other options that each will take their own time at every stage.
Mallya could appeal against the Home Office order were that to go against him before a first-tier tribunal, which is a judicial body independent of the government, and then to a second tier tribunal.
If all efforts fail, Mallya still could appeal further to the European Court of Human Rights.
The UK government is looking to speed up its processes, but Mallya doesn’t look likely to return to India any time soon.