The United Kingdom has told India that it cannot deport liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is facing money laundering charges in the country, but could consider an extradition request for him, the Ministry of External Affairs said Wednesday.
The UK government’s response came nearly a fortnight after India made a request for the deportation of Mallya, whose Indian passport was revoked in a bid to secure his presence for investigation against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002. There is also a non-bailable warrant issued against Mallya.
“The UK government has informed us that under the 1971 Immigration Act, the UK does not require an individual to hold a valid passport in order to remain in the UK if they have extant leave to remain as long as their passport was valid when leave to remain or enter the UK was conferred,” the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Wednesday.
“At the same time the UK acknowledges the seriousness of the allegations and is keen to assist the Government of India. They have asked GoI to consider requesting mutual legal assistance or extradition,” added Swarup.
Soon after India’s request was turned down, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha that the government will now take the extradition route once the chargesheet is filed.
“He owes PSU banks a lot of money and all illegalities in this are being dug out. During the investigation one probe agency asked for deportation as his diplomatic passport has been cancelled. I was trying to get information on this in the morning but could not do so because of the time difference. However, the information that I managed to get is this — as per their policy if a person has entered the UK on a valid passport and the passport has been cancelled after that, he cannot be deported. The alternative to that is that once the chargesheet is filed, we will ask for extradition,” Jaitley said reacting to an intervention by JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) sources said the agency was now preparing to send an extradition request to UK to get Mallya back to India.
“We received the communication about refusal to deport Mallya last week from the MEA. In any case the process for getting Mallya extradited is on. It (extradition request) would be sent in due course,” said an ED official.