In a big development in the Vijay Mallya case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will begin hearing on sentencing him in a contempt of court, in which he was held guilty in July 2017.
A bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit has kept the urgent hearing on Mallya's sentencing at 2 p.m. The bench asked the Centre's counsel to inform Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to be present in the court with written instructions from the Ministry of External Affairs.
After the top court's decision to begin hearing on Mallya's sentencing, the delay in his extradition from the UK would not stand in the way of the apex court to pronounce the quantum of sentence. The top court noted that Mallya's counsel has been appearing before it during every hearing, it would hear arguments on sentence at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
According to a judgment delivered on July 14, 2017, Mallya was found guilty of contempt for not paying Rs 9,000 crore worth of dues to the banks despite repeated directions. Additionally, he was also accused of not disclosing his assets and also secretly trying to dispose of the assets to defeat the purpose of recovery proceedings.
On October 6, last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has told the Supreme Court that the UK Home Office has intimated, there is a further legal issue which needs to be resolved before Vijay Mallya's extradition takes place and this issue is outside and apart from the extradition process having effect under the UK law. The affidavit had said that Vijay Mallya's surrender to India should, in principle, have been completed within 28 days after he lost the appeal against extradition. However, the UK Home Office intimated that there is further legal issue which needs to be resolved before Mallya's extradition takes place.
On November 2, the top court had asked the Centre to file a status report on extradition of the fugitive businessman within six weeks.
On January 18, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that Vijay Mallya's extradition has been raised at the highest political level, but the UK government has refused to share the details of the confidential proceedings delaying his extradition.
"In December 2020, External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar raised the issue with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and most recently in January 2021, the Home Secretary of India raised it with the UK Permanent Under Secretary of Home. The UK's response remained the same", said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the top court. Mehta added that in November last year the foreign secretary of India raised the issue of Vijay Mallya extradition with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who responded that the UK's legal complexities were preventing Mallay's quick extradition.