Businessman Vijay Mallya wins right to challenge extradition to India

Drinks tycoon Vijay Mallya has won the right to challenge his extradition to India at the High Court.

Mr Mallya, former principal of the Force India Formula One team and chairman of the UB Group, is wanted in his home country over allegations of fraud relating to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

The 63-year-old, who built his fortune in the alcoholic drinks industry, denies any wrongdoing and has been fighting to remain in Britain.

Vijay Mallya extradition proceedings
Vijay Mallya extradition proceedings

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court in December, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that Mr Mallya had a case to answer and referred the matter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who signed the extradition order in February.

But, at a hearing before the High Court in London on Tuesday, his barrister Clare Montgomery QC argued that “fundamental features” of the judge’s decision were wrong.

Lord Justice Leggatt, sitting with Mr Justice Popplewell, ruled that Mr Mallya’s case should be argued at a full hearing.

Mr Mallya, once hailed as India’s version of British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, was present in court throughout the hearing.

Senior District Judge Arbuthnot found Mr Mallya had misrepresented how loans received from banks would be used.

She said that bankers had been “charmed” by a “glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy” into losing their common sense.

But Mr Mallya argued the judge had made her decision on the basis of a case which was not being levelled against him by Indian prosecutors.

Ms Montgomery told the court that that led to the judge making findings “premised on serious, and in some cases very obvious, errors”.

She added that the Indian government’s case against Mr Mallya was “flawed and based on wilfully false allegations”.

Granting permission for Mr Mallya’s legal challenge, Lord Justice Leggatt said Mr Mallya’s contention that the judge had wrongly concluded that he had a case to answer was “reasonably arguable”.

The court dismissed Mr Mallya’s claim on all other grounds, including that his prosecution in India was politically motivated.

The full hearing of his case will take place on a date to be fixed.