London : Embattled Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India on loan defaults to several banks, is set to appear today before Westminster Magistrates' Court here for his extradition case hearing.
The 61-year-old former chief of erstwhile Kingfisher airlines has been out on bail since his arrest in April and will today find out the timetable to be set by the judge to hear the arguments for and against his extradition in what is referred to as a "case management hearing".
"When the case returns to court, the District Judge is likely to set down a timetable for the service of any evidence to be submitted by either side in the proceedings, and list a date for a final hearing.
"There might be a few more hearings in this case in the coming months to deal with case management or any issues that arise, before the final hearing takes place, at which the full arguments from both sides in this case will be heard by the District Judge," explained Jasvinder Nakhwal, partner at Peters and Peters Solicitors LLP and member of the UK's Extradition Lawyers Association.
Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which will be arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, had met a joint team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in London last month to thrash out details of the case.
"Our aim is to build a strong, infallible case and these meetings will help resolve issues across the table. The CPS will be arguing based on documents provided by CBI and ED, therefore a joint team is here to address queries they may have," official sources had said after the meeting in May.
Last week, Mallya was welcomed with chants of "chor, chor" by Indian cricket fans as he arrived to watch the India vs South Africa Champions Trophy match at The Oval cricket ground in London.
Earlier, he had caused a stir by his attendance of the India vs Pakistan match in Birmingham after which he had declared on Twitter that he would be attending all India matches in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy.
Mallya, who is wanted in India for Kingfisher Airlines' default on loans worth nearly Rs 9,000 crores, has been in the UK since March 2016 and was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant on April 18.
He had attended a central London police station for his arrest and was released on conditional bail a few hours later after providing a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds, assuring the court of abiding by all conditions associated with extradition proceedings, such as the surrender of his passport and a ban on him possessing any travel documents.
An initial case management hearing date of May 17 had been postponed to June 13.
If the District Judge rules in favour of extradition at the end of the trial, the UK home secretary must order Mallya's extradition within two months of the appropriate day. However, the case can go through a series of appeals before arriving at a conclusion.
India and the UK have an Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992, but so far only one extradition has taken place under the arrangement – Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, who was sent back to India last October to face trial in connection with his involvement in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.
However, unlike Mallya, he had submitted to the extradition order without legal challenge.