Mumbai’s largest and oldest prison has been up kempt for the absconding liquor baron whose judgement will be delivered in less than a few hours by the Westminster court, UK today. The judgement will decide whether Indian businessman Vijay Mallya will be extradited to India for investigations into an alleged fraud.
The jail has all arrangements and prepped a high security cell for Vijay Mallya if he returns to India, an official said.
The 62-year-old owner of the defunct Kingfisher Airline is wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs. 9,000 crore.
Vijay Mallya left India in 2016 after a consortium of banks got together to start legal proceedings to recover the loans. He has been living in a mansion near London since.
He has been out on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year. He will appear in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London and if extradited, the businessmen will have to stay in the high-security barracks in a two-storey building inside the prison complex, where Mumbai terror attack terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab was kept, a prison official said.
“We are fully prepared to lodge him safely at our correction centre. If he is brought here, we will take care of his safety and security,” the official told news agency PTI.
For his medical needs, Vijay Mallya will be sent to a dispensary near the barrack, he said.
The high-security barracks, separate from regular cells, are covered by CCTV cameras and security personnel ensure a round-the-clock safety cover, he added.
Earlier this year, Vijay Mallya had complained about “no natural light” or fresh air in Indian jails prompting a UK judge to ask India for a video of a cell at the Arthur Road jail.
“I would like a video of Barrack 12, to see where the windows are… shot maybe at mid-day with no artificial lighting,” the judge had said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) submitted a 10-minute video. The centre also assessed the security cover at the Arthur Road Jail and sent its findings to the UK court.
Vijay Mallya’s lawyers have told the court that in early 2016, he had offered to pay back nearly 80 per cent of the principal loan amount owed to the banks, and even wrote to the finance minister, but got no response.
If the court rules against Vijay Mallya, he will have the option of going to a higher court. And if the verdict goes against India, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate will have 14 days to file an appeal.