It had taken Britain 23 long years to extradite someone wanted in India when it had extradited a Gujarat riots accused, Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, on October 18, 2016 to face trial in India after a Red Corner Notice was issued against him. He is currently in a jail in the Anand district of Gujarat and is facing trial in the case of riots in Anand’s Ode village where, on March 1, 2002, 23 people of a community were burnt alive.
India had signed extradition treaty with Britain way back in 1992 and it came into force in 1993 but in spite of India’s repeated demands, Red Corner notices and warrants, Britain had not extradited or deported anyone before Samirbhai Patel. And he is still the only one.
Be it musician Nadeem who is wanted in Gulshan Kumar’s murder case or Tiger Hanif who is wanted in a 1993 Gujarat blast case or naval war room leak case accused Ravi Shankaran or former IPL Czar Lalit Modi who is wanted for committing financial crimes, arguments of the Indian authorities could not convince the British government or its courts to rule in favour the Indian government.
So when Samirbhai Patel’s extradition was finally approved from Britain, Indian agencies felt a sense of achievement, in spite of the fact that Samirbhai had not opposed his extradition and, in fact, his consent had helped the British authorities to take a decision in the matter.
While everyone else on India’s most wanted list has fought tooth and nail to oppose his extradition from Britain, be it Nadeem or Tiger Hanif or Lalit Modi or Vijay Mallya who was arrested today and granted bail within an hour as a part of his routine extradition case hearing.
And going by the historical precedent as well as the legal technicalities of the extradition process that the UK follows, it may take years before Vijay Mallya exhausts his legal options. If the district court, where the case hearing began today, rules against him, Mallya has options to move to the British High Court and place an appeal before the UK Home Secretary. In case of a negative ruling, Mallya will then move to the UK Supreme Court. And no one can say what time this whole process will take.
Then the Indian agencies will also have to ensure the sanctity of criminal charges against Mallya assuring the British authorities that there is no political vendetta involved and there will be no compromise with Mallya’s human rights.
Dawood Ibrahim’s aide Tiger Hanif is a classic example of this labyrinthine process. A UK district court had allowed his extradition in May 2012. The UK High Court upheld the district court ruling in April 2013. He then appealed to the then UK Home Secretary Theresa May, who is now the prime minister, against the court ruling. And his application is still stuck at that level, waiting for May’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s approval or disapproval. If Rudd rules against him, he will certainly appeal against it in the UK Supreme Court.
Vijay Mallya knows it. That is why they keep on challenging and daring Indian agencies that there are no cases against them and they are victims of witch hunting. That is why, after today’s court hearing, Vijay Mallya is tweeting that he is not worried and is “thanking God for an impartial and robust justice system in the UK”.
Also, when India has not been able to convince the British authorities to extradite people charged with serious criminal offences like terrorism, murder and espionage, what chance the financial crimes have.